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Birthday Letter

My Dearest Nephew:

You once asked me if I would write you the  meaning of a nephew; I can't, not with you in mind.  You have always held a special place in my heart and mind, and will continue to do so regardless of the number of birthdays you celebrate.

You have been special since the moment I knew you would be you. I watched in anticipation as you consistently developed and demanded more room in your Mom's tummy. I watched in amazement as I tenderly touched her stomach and you moved in response.

I wondered if you could hear our laughter, or if you joined with us as we laughed as you stretched and kicked in your isolated world. Were you isolated?  Did you ever listen for my voice? I felt your angry kicks when you were restless, but your anticipation to be free was not greater than my desire to see and hold you in my arms as I welcomed you to my world.

I remember my first glimpse of you: tears were not to be denied as I finally met the beautiful person I had begun to know, the perfectly formed body with the tiny but strong hands with fingers that curled not only around my fingers, but also around my heart. Those hands are much larger and stronger, but they have never loosened their grip on my heart.

No, I cannot write to you the meaning of a nephew; you have been and continue to be the son I never had. I have watched as you continued to grow in your new world.  I watched in wonder as you became aware of surroundings, as you began to focus on what and who was in your world, watched as you were challenged by sights, sounds, and obstacles.

I was thrilled to see you begin to crawl, was more than anxious when you began to walk and had more than a few false starts, and was speechless as you began to communicate in your language as you tried to learn ours. The date of your birth: one of the most precious days of my life, a source of joy that continues to this day to add meaning to my life.  I am filled with satisfaction as I see you maturing into a fine young man with the world at your doorstep.

The world you entered just a short fourteen years ago will continue to be filed with challenges, opportunities, some good and some bad, but only you will learn which door to close and which to enter. Just as I know the sun shines brightly today, I know the clouds will come tomorrow, clouds of disappointment, frustration, and anger. You must remember these are only clouds and will not linger long before the sunshine of new growth and new boundaries will once again widen the world you entered at your birth.

Your devoted Aunt,

Jo Lyon Autrey

November 17, 1990

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