Today is Z-man's 19th birthday.
In just a little more than a week, he and I will get back on an airplane to take him to year 2 of culinary school in faraway college land.
How did THAT happen?
How did we end up here, halfway through the culinary part of his program; a quarter of the way through the full degree?
Last year for his birthday, I wrote about the boy who never left.
And yet he did.
And, although he was hurting while he did, he made it.
And he is ready to do it again.
He made it through the year with more resolve than ever to become the kitchen whiz he believes he was born to be.
For his birthday, he asked for something that made me laugh.
Not video games, or Best Buy gift cards or even computer software or gadgets.
No. The same child who, at 10, chose kitchen utensils over a GameBoy for Hanukkah wants a santoku knife.
My boy plays with knives -- and it's a good thing.
My boy plays with fire -- and it's a good thing.
My boy has my heart -- and it's a VERY good thing.
Z-man, your end-of-summer birthday has become a bittersweet moment for me, as I celebrate both your birth and your independence.
I now must send you off on your own again, leaving that little empty spot in my heart -- a spot that you will fill for me with pride in your accomplishments.
Happy birthday, my big boy.
I love you.