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Dear Justin,

It happened in the blink of an eye, and then it was over. We were walking near the “big kid” rides at Great Adventure, and out of the blue you grabbed me, spun me around, and with full eye contact kissed me twice.

I saw a mom smile as she walked by.

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In those moments I wish I knew what you were thinking. Are you happy the rain is over and we finally got you out of the house? Are you just feeling Mommy love? I will never know.

Some moments like that continue to make me sad. This one, I’m just grateful for the kisses.

There are still so many moments of joy and affection that you express. I worry sometimes (because I always worry, I think you’ve figured that out by now) that I am the only witness to these spontaneous instances of joy, these moments that make you so much more relatable to others. They are few and far between as you’ve entered your teens, but they are beautiful.

I think of the day you cupped your little brother’s best friend’s cheek, looked her in the eye, and didn’t need to be able to say “you belong here.”

I remember the time at horseback riding where you walked out of the barn and put your hands on the faces of the women waiting there and smiled into their eyes, much to their delight.

I recall the time you were tired and hugged your aunt so tightly in Disney, with a look upon your face of pure peace.

I think of the way we start almost every morning with the two of us in an inverted “V” as you drape your much taller frame over mine, and I hold you until you’re ready to begin the day.

There are periods where your affectionate nature is dormant, and I miss these moments then; but I have to remember that most of my friends’ kids are embarrassed by their parents now, and hugs are few and far between. You are being developmentally appropriate, and I have to respect that.

But I love when your inner nature breaks through and I get to hug you once again.

I love you, my boy.

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