Just In Time
A Mother's Letter to Her Son
As I lay on my side on the bed, with my ever enlarging waist, I was 5 months in when the reality of pregnancy hit me. I was only 18 and not long before that, I had lain on a hallway floor of another house, waiting for death.
That’s when the first thought of you came to me…and you saved my life. Because at 19, I could hold the precious little angel that took away the nightmares, the sadness and the pain that I once tried to drown in Jack Daniels.
Before you, life had no reason and made no sense. It was just a natural event—breathing, walking, and eating. Before you there was very little happiness, no pleasure, and no purpose. All that I was had long ago been ripped from me, leaving only darkness and distrust. Before you I was lonely and felt unloved as the world moved around me while keeping its distance.
You were so tiny, I would keep you next to me at night to protect you. I remember the smell of baby powder on your soft new skin and you could wrap all your little fingers around one of mine. You would stare at me with those bright blue eyes, so “new.” We would quietly lie there looking at each other. You knew me, you loved me and I loved you. Best of all, you didn’t judge me.
I was bound and determined to give you a good life, one of kindness and love.
As young as I was, I was determined to be responsible for you, to nurture you and to teach you. You and I would be would beat the odds. Many worried, some spoke their uncertainty, but I was going to raise you alone.
Nestled under my left arm, I would caress your cheek and sing “Rock-a-bye, baby" changing 'bye' with 'my' so you knew you were mine. Placing you on top of my chest, we would fall asleep as my heart would beat with yours. Our connection was ours and ours alone. We both needed to grow and we were going to do it together.
You are now a man with a life of your own. Spending every day together is now just a memory, but one we share: movies and games, walks in the park feeding ducks, a Ninja Turtle movie—again?—and endless hours of haggling over homework.
Perhaps these are becoming fading reminiscences of our journey together, at least for you. But they still bring me joy, like how bubbles and balloons were your favorite playtime as a toddler or that time you were 5 and I found you hiding in the closet eating your bag of Halloween candy. The year we went to Chicago and you were ring-bearer for my best friend's wedding and then saw Michael Jordan and the Bulls play or the time I sat in the hot sun with your grandfather to watch you graduate High School.
Those were the years of just you and me, mother and son, the most treasured moments of my life. You opened my world to what it means to be human, to be a loving mother and to just be me.
As I watched you grow, you made me grow. You breathed life into my existence.
When I named you “Justin,” I had no idea how your name would come to represent something deeper, as those closest to me would say “He was just in time.” With your first words, we would do battle saying “I love you more,” “no, I love you more” and on and on.
Justin, you saved me. You changed me. You made me proud. Being a mother isn't easy; it is the hardest job in the world. At times we fought, but we never left out an “I love you” and we have never said “goodbye” without that.
From that first moment, I somehow felt you were there, telling me to “Get up! You’re pregnant!” That, Justin, was when I vowed to love you, to be there for you and to tell you: “My son, I love you more!”