Today you turn twenty-three years old. I have been an honored guest on your journey so far.
I couldn’t imagine how my heart would expand any farther to encompass another human. I had experienced total immersion with your sister. She was the sponge and I was the faucet that tried to see how much she could absorb. I worried all through my pregnancy, “How do we fit a whole other being into this world of Jeff and Lex and I?”
Super Bowl Sunday, 1991. The New York Giants were playing the Buffalo Bills. Not many folks in New England were overly excited about the actual game, but the Super Bowl is our Mardi Gras – an excuse to party long and late. I was slicing up a grapefuit for Lexie. She was perched on one of the tippy, uncomfortable, slatted stools at the kitchen counter. I remember an episode in the daily life of Eric and Ariel was being reenacted on the breakfast bar as I bent to the cutting board. A searing pain made me drop the knife. You were knock, knock, knocking of life’s door.
Lexie finally got Jeff’s attention, “Mom can’t make my grapefruit.” We put in our emergency call to my sister, Zanne, who was on standby alert – an hour away. I counted contractions while Jeff and Lex went about her breakfast pageant with Disney dolls. I connected with you on a basis of time and space, counting out time and realizing our physical connectedness was about to be gone, forever.
Needless to say, you arrived, much to everyone who didn’t matter’s relief, prior to the game kick-off. Instead of inserting yourself into the triangle of a family that existed, you sat back, quietly in “Hannah land;” letting the world swirl around you and absorbing the energy of the sun through the kitchen windows. Dogs slobbered your knitted caps and ears, cats wandered by and graced you with their rumbly purrs. Lex danced in and out of your field of vision like a nymph, in fact, dressed as a nymph most of the time.
You found a time when inserting was no longer even necessary. We had slowed our pace and embraced this quiet presence who gave no judgement of who we were. You became our Hanni, and life before you faded into sound-bytes of oblivion.
You learned to walk, holding onto an old dog and you never let go. You hunted with hounds, danced with wolves and learned to drive a dog-sled team.
You rode a stubborn rescued pony and continue to seek out those who need to be rescued. From Cracker Jack and Nelson, to Baby, JJ, Night, Baloo and now Cab. You are an amazing horsewoman. Yes, you mostly pick the crazy ones but your connection to them is profound.
You are a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a best friend, a secret love – in twenty-three short years you have created your own force-field and impression on the world. There isn’t a minute I don’t miss you in my daily life but I also revel in watching your journey.
Here’s to the next twenty-three!