I remember four years ago today. That was the day my nephew was born.
He arrived late, after the doctor had said he wanted him to come by the due date, and everyone had made the plane reservations.... And then the due date came and went, and the doctor said we shall see... I already was scheduled to arrive a little after others did, to stay a few extra weeks and help my sister and brother-in-law with the new arrival. So I got to be there just in time. (One soon-to-be grandpa, on the other hand, got to come for a nice long weekend and watch my sister continue to gestate.)
But arrive, he did. And from the start, he won my heart.
I suppose that gets said around the nation, around the world, from aunt to nephew, uncle to niece, and every other combination, every day. It's true of my other nieces and nephews too - I loved them when I saw them (perhaps a little before that too). But each experience of falling in love is a little different, isn't it? And as I sit here smiling, remembering four years ago today, I am remembering those things that make this nephew special, the ways that he won my heart uniquely.
He began life in constant movement. He loved to be swaddled, as they tell you to do in the hospital - it makes them feel safe, they say - but this one loved the swaddling so that he could spend the next few minutes kicking and squirming to get unwrapped. I swear that's why he loved it so. I remember once - holding him in my arms all swaddled and warm, him squirming and moving in constant motion - undoing the cloths and saying, "Run! Run if you must. Go where you must go!" It was one of the few times he stopped and (I swear) looked up at me quizzically - with his puppy eyes that couldn't yet focus - as if to say, "Why'd you do that? I was having so much fun!" So I wrapped him back up and he looked content in his renewed struggle to get released.
I couldn't imagine him back then ever becoming larger than a very-large football. And now? He's turned into a boy.
It was just a couple weeks ago that I saw him and his one-year-old brother (another nephew who's won my heart) as we spent time in Chicago and San Diego together for family gatherings. I love the tandem team - the two of them, entertaining each other, loving each other, the older one telling on the baby as the baby starts doing more grown-up things - and think back today, to four years ago.... it's almost impossible to imagine that all that would have turned into all this. And yet it is so, in perfect form. Such sweet boys, such excellent parents....
I suppose that, after four years, he necessarily would end up turning into a boy - a little person, but a person nonetheless. I think of four year olds that I see on the street and yes, they are real boys (or girls), they have each grown into that kind of maturity, with the promise of a future - so why wouldn't my own nephew follow suit?
But you know, he's that baby too, in my eyes. I can remember the little one that he was when this all began, four years ago. Yes, I can see how big he's gotten, how tall he's grown, how mature he's becoming.... while all the while I also see in him - in my mind's eye - the baby he was, back when I first made his acquaintance.
And maybe that's why we celebrate birthdays as we do. They are precious days, aren't they? Happy Birthday, baby. Happy Birthday today too. I love you! And wish I were there, to celebrate yet another day of that wonderful life you will lead. Onward.