Last night my oldest said goodbye to high school and hello to the real world.  Today, my middle son, Braden, celebrates a major milestone himself, his sixteenth birthday.

If you ask anyone that knows me well they will without hesitation try to say that Braden is my favorite child.  I would like to go on record saying he isn't my favorite child I don't have one I love all my kids the way they need to be loved.  However, I will say he came to me at a time in my life when my heart needed rescuing and he healed a deep wound no one else could.

You see, Braden is my rainbow baby.  He was given to me after my Kathern went to heaven.

Braden is an old, dramatic soul.  Yes, you read that right dramatic (just ask Uncle Chad he'll confirm).  I'm not sure he realizes in all his sixteen years that the cord has in fact been cut.  He loves his momma.  He is loyal to me.  Even as a teen he isn't afraid to wrap his big ole' muscular arms around me and tell me he loves me in front of the world as if he were a little bitty boy.  I have always said he would pick his momma over a trip to Disneyland.

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He has a way of playing your heart strings when you meet him.  He is friendly and outgoing and just loves other people.  He was the youngest for eight whole years until Tuck came along.  When Tucker and Charlotte were born he automatically went into big brother mode always helping and loving them.  Now as a teen he fights with them but loves them all the same.  Many times you might believe he is still the youngest because he is just a big baby.

The best way I can describe my boy is to say he is a gentle giant.  He'll flash those sweet baby blue eyes at you, give you a big hug and you melt.  He has the best and most hilarious loud laugh.  It makes Joe and I giggle when he is downstairs or outside playing games and we hear it.  It is completely contagious.

I think of all he has endured in the past year with depression, anger, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and struggles with school and I see him taking each day as it comes and working hard to be the best he can be for himself and others.

As he celebrates his special day I think of how much better a place the world is with Braden in it.  I can't imagine one day without his hugs, texts from school just to say "hey momma, I love you", his random request for funyuns and extra toasty cheezits from the grocery, and always being the best Golden Girl/Will & Grace watching partner I could ask for.

He's my dude, my guy, my best buddy and it blesses me to shout from the roof tops...

HAPPY SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY, MY BOY, You mean the whole wide world to us.

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