My Dearest Eh,
Because of the circumstances beyond my control, this is the first of your birthdays (and hopefully last) that we are spending apart. But being apart from you only made me think once again of all the things that make me love you so much.
We met when you were about fifteen minutes old. The delivery room only allows so many extras inside, so, while you were born, I ended up in a little visitors lounge trying to calm down your grandfather - who was making valiant attempts at making huge holes in the cheep floors of that lounge.
Your mommy didn't want to know in advance if she was having a little boy or a little girl, so, while you were swimming inside of her, you were just “Baby” - that is, till the first sonogram; at which point my dear sister declared that “Baby” looked like a little alien – and the moniker stuck. So, you were “Alien”, and then, being a real American, your mommy shortened it to “Alie”; she also claimed that the sound of your heartbeat was her favorite techno music. Meanwhile, your aunt (I), who always enjoyed escaping into her daydreams, for some reason kept imagining that Alie would be a little girl, and that both of us would become wonderful friends.
So, after that tiny scare that you gave us upon your arrival, your Aba came into that room and told us “It's a girl”; you can't begin to imagine the joy and relief those simple words brought to us. We all crowded into your mommy's room to meet the newest member of our family. My sister looked exhausted – and transformed by happiness. In her arms she cradled a tiny bundle; my first words were “ Oh, my Gd! That's Alie?” You looked red and wrinkled – in the best traditions of all newborn. You were sucking your whole fist, and your smart, beautiful eyes kept looking at all the people around you. And all the people in the room were forever transformed.
We ended up spending a lot of time together. I was your first official babysitter – the most neurotic one you ever had (so far). I made sure you were always very clean – and did your laundry with almost fanatical precision. I made sure to circulate all your outfits – and took at least one picture in each one. I had the precise inventory of all your toys in my head. I cleaned and emptied your stroller after every excursion outside. Sometimes I took you to Dr. Sima – and believe me, all those shots hurt me as much as they did you. You officially became a New Yorker when you took your first subway ride – and your dear aunt discovered the exact percentage of jerks riding that subway. Also thanks to me, you had your first brush with jury duty (but that is a separate story).
Even after I got an “official” job, I made sure to spend as much time with your as possible. You were an ideal baby – good tempered and extremely friendly; you used to smile at anything remotely resembling a human shape. You were not an exceptionally fussy eater (although you refused to drink formula under any circumstances).
It was you who first called me “Papi”.
After you got a bit bigger, we began to explore the city. Your MacLaren Techno saw more subway cars than any tourist. We went everywhere – The Met, Central Park, FAO Schwartz, Times Square, Toys R Us in Times Square, Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Columbus Circle, Borders, Banes and Noble - needless to say, the list is pretty extensive. Most notable among them was Dylan's Candy Shoppe – in whose subbasement you took your first unaided steps!! Those steps were duly witnessed by your mommy, your Papi, largish number of tourists, and half the floor of Dylan's overpriced, but fantastic merchandise.
It was on those trips when your presence literally saved me. You see, after surviving 9/11 and the year following it, Lower Manhattan was something that brought tears and an overwhelming desire to avoid it as much as possible. But when I started roaming with you, all of the sudden it was OK to go to Battery Park City. That park became our favorite destination. Your company in WFC, by the Famous Bull statue, in Whitehall – it just leached away pain. I saw you running in Winter Garden, dressed in your snappy pink outfit from Gymboree and waiving a piece of pastry – and the horrific picture of that place lying in ruins...it did not bother me as much. Gd willing, when you get older, I hope you will understand just how incredibly special that was; how incredibly special you are, my Eh.
Because, you see, that is not all. When you were born, we didn't just get a beloved daughter, granddaughter, and niece – you were the first member of your mommy's family to be born on American soil; to be born free. Your ancestors survived it all – virulent anti-Semitism, Muslim and Christian persecutions, Communists, Nazis, Holocaust...When you started attending Jewish school – it was beyond triumph for our family. And when you excelled in your studies, especially Judaic Studies – we were beyond happy tears. That is how special you and your younger siblings are, Eh, – we triumphed over all that hatred and repeated attempts to wipe us out – and we were blessed by the Almighty with you!
You are beautiful inside and out. You clearly inherited your mommy's musical and artistic talents – with Gd help, you will grow to nurture these talents. You are smart and kind – and you clearly inherited our family's “love” for homework. You are a great older sister – although you don't always appreciate your siblings:).
May The Heavenly Father continue to protect you, your siblings, and your parents; and may He always bestow His blessings on us all!
I love your curly, fluffy head,