I remember the day we met, in early October of 2016. God forbid I ever forget such a life-changing day. You came straight over to where I was sitting on the rug when your mom brought you in; you were too fascinated by my unfamiliar presence to cry for her. Instead, you stopped a few feet in front of me and I rolled a rubber ball to you, to show you I was friendly and open to play. You instantly rolled it back, smiling, and we had a game going. How many new little faces did I meet that didn't require at least five minutes of soft reassurances before hesitant curiosity gave way to uncontained giddiness? You were something special, and I could already feel my heart expanding to accommodate this tiny two year old inside every one of its chambers. The way you immediately trusted me makes me think maybe you knew all along that I was someone who would love you. And love you I did. Each day after that, while I was in that classroom, I would pick you up and hold you to me as you sobbed for mommy (your teachers ignored it, knowing you'd tire with the lack of attention, but my heart ached to see you like that and I couldn't do the same), and when the tears subsided you would still sit on my folded legs, wet face against my chest, clutching me; you often kept your head down and instead of those big innocent brown eyes I stared at fringes of criminally long, beautiful black lashes. You would never move from my embrace until you were made to. I guess you thought I was your guardian teddy bear, but I didn't mind at all. On the playground you were never far from my side. Admittedly, I often approached you, but you were happy with the attention and I embraced my little shadow. It got to the point where a teacher chastised me for spending so much time with you exclusively, but I wasn't phased. You liked wagon rides and being chased as you rode a tricycle and when I spun in circles with you in my arms. Your laughter was the sweetest sound I've ever heard. I loved creating it. As time went by you began running straight to me when I came into your room or through the gate on the playground, or else making cheeky faces at me until I ran to you and scooped you up. Sometimes you were shy, keeping your distance while eyeing me longingly until I knelt and opened my arms, and then the reservation would fall away and you all but jumped on me. These are the memories of our too-short time together that I'll keep forever. They hurt terribly to look back on – not because they themselves were painful, but because the accompanying realization that we can't make any more of them is – but I don't wish them away for the world. I love you so much, sweet boy; I did from that very first encounter, when we'd won each other over so easily. I hope I did well enough at showing you that love, every second of every minute of every day that I was with you. You made this job worth it, and I would gladly trade all the money I've made doing it for a chance to see you again. You came into my life at a lonely, confusing time when I desperately needed clarity and a sense of belonging, and you gave me just that and made all the uncertainty about my future fall away. You made me sure that, at least for now, I am doing the right thing. I truly believe you are an angel, in all senses of the word. I think of you every day, I pray for you every night. At a period when everything seems to be changing, and not always for the better, thank you for giving me something that will stay with me forever.