"That better not be a dog.”

I remember the words I said to you when you came home from college with Princess. But she was so little. Of course I fell in love with her. 

And you know what, she ended up being an amazing addition to our family. That was you, though, Nicholas. You had this knack for always knowing just what we needed. 

Even when your dad and I were both so young when you came into our lives. We were practically babies ourselves, and suddenly, there you were, staring at us with your warm brown eyes, closing your whole hand around just one of our fingers. Not only were you our son, but you became our very best friend. 

We could have gone on such different paths had we not had you. It’s crazy to think about. You taught us so much; we grew up together. 

But you were always wise beyond your years. I think it was your entrepreneurial spirit. It goes all the way back to your days on the playground, when you’d stuff your backpack full of snacks to sell to the other kids. Then later, during your college days, when you’d find a way to make money doing what you loved the most—shopping for shoes. 

Your shoes are in your room, still, on the racks you set up the month before you passed away. We should probably buy more so we can display the rest of them, the ones that are in boxes and in the closet. Yes, I found all of those. You were clever, Pumpkin, but I’m your mother. I always knew what you were up to, like when you and your dad would claim you’re getting a deal because you wore the same size. “They’re for both of us.” Yeah, I saw through that in about point-two seconds. 

I can’t knock it too hard, though, because you were always impeccably dressed. If you weren’t wearing basketball shorts, that is. 

Some of my favorite memories are from when you were living in Chicago and playing basketball, when I’d fly in on Wednesday, and your dad would meet us on Friday, and we’d all hang out until Sunday. We had so much fun. I’m sure some of your college friends were like, “Why are his parents here?” But you loved it. 

They say time flies and that’s a lie. Time is a runaway train. 

After your passing, I couldn’t bring myself to go back to work at the salon; I couldn’t fathom the sad looks in the mirror, the questions, the hollow but well-intentioned condolences that people say when they don’t know what else to say. Instead, I’ve been focusing on my real estate career and my online health and fitness business. I guess I can see where you got your entrepreneurial spirit from, after all. 

I miss literally everything about you. Your smile. Your jokes. Your cooking. I don’t care if you were making chili dogs or chicken parmesan, you put so much love into everything you did. 

Sometimes I can almost trick myself into believing it never happened, that I’ll come around the corner and see you chasing Sabaian around with a nerf gun or wrestling with your dad. That I’ll hear your music blaring and I’ll know that you’re in your room playing video games. That you’ll send me a message when I’m having a hard day with some of your famous words of encouragement. You were always good at checking up on me. 

You were also good for spontaneous phone calls, like the one when you called me up and said, “Ma, I need $500; they’re selling this dog out here.” Next thing I know, you show up with Prince. Your rationale? “You said to adopt, not buy.” 

They’re my grandbabies, though, and they’re just the sweetest. Especially Prince. I know he’s a dog, Nicholas, but Prince acts just like you. He loves people, hates mornings, and he’s got a touch of that little-man syndrome. I have yet to see if he loves diamonds as much as you, but I guess we’ll find out when we bring yours home. 

We’re having three made—for me, your dad, and Sabaian. Other family members, being more traditional, were shocked that we weren’t going the burial route, but we know this is what you would want. There’s peace in knowing that we can honor you in this beautiful way. You touched so many lives—your father’s and mine, especially—and I’m counting the days until I can keep a piece of you close to my heart again. 

I love you forever,