Open Birthday Letter

To Alden and Asa:

Today (March 7) marks your one-year birthday.  The first anniversary of the day you gasped your first breath of air.  And you received your first kisses on your cheeks.  And slept with the stars in view.

But your time in this world started long before this day last year.  The earliest picture we have of you is from July 17, 2012—not long after you were just two zygotes. 

You, at the cellular level.  Fission and DNA instructions. Blastocysts.  I read all of the literature I could understand about this process because it was the only thing I could know about you at the time.  And I wanted to know everything about you.  Each day, there was another fact to learn about you and, in the midst of all of these amazing biological processes, another fruit or vegetable to compare your size to.  Before we even saw your faces, your existence was at once scientifically explainable and a complete enigma.

Then, about eight months later, we found ourselves in a hospital operating room.  I kept watching this clock on the wall as its second hand smoothly glided through each minute.

Then, at 4:31 and then 4:32, I saw you.  First, Alden.

Then, Asa.
All of the nurses were excited by your red hair as the doctor delivering you expressed disbelief: “The nurses always want to see red hair.”  You were brought into the world by a skeptic.

We sat in that room by your mother's head for a while, and I held you. 

I was quite unaccustomed to this posture, and lactic acid started to build up in my arms.  While my limbs tired and my mind concentrated on holding you as securely and comfortably as I could, I convinced myself that I would not admit any weakness to the hospital staff . . . no matter how long we had to sit there.  In short, I did not want to set you down.  There was no time to waste.  Now that your birthday had arrived, there were so many more things to know about you.

Over the past year, I expect that the clock that marked the time of your birth has continued to glide round and round, with other masked men watching it as intently as I did. During that time, the best things about you could not be learned from books or websites.  Without a doubt, you have progressed much like studies would suggest that you would, but there is sheer magic in watching you grow and explore the world.  Others have told me that it only becomes more and more fun as time passes. 

Another paradox.  I can and cannot wait to watch you grow up. I am excited to celebrate the passing of your first year of life and to see who you will become in the next year—but, admittedly, I also mourn the possibility that I did not catch everything over the past year.  That time is gone.  The clock in the operating room continues to make its trips from twelve to twelve.  Try as we might, your mother and I cannot stop that whirring motor to take a free minute; all of this must take place in real time.  Others (the same "others" who say that each day is more fun than the last) warned us that this would happen, and it will happen to you.  But it seems so much more dire when you realize that an entire year has passed and you hoped you could account for much more of it.

So, we will resolve to enjoy and savor this next year even more than we did the previous year—if that is even possible.  Your being here is nothing short of amazing, and I hope we are able to teach you as many important things as we can.  But I also hope that this note is preserved and that, one day, when you can appreciate it, you will think about all of the silly things that your father and mother have done to play with you and watch you laugh and smile and that you will realize those hours were some of the best-spent and most precious that we have ever known.

Happy birthday, twins.


Julie Tiemann said...

Really glad I haven't bothered to put eye makeup on today, because geez, Austin. Quite possibly the sweetest, most perfect thing I've ever read on the internets. Love all of you very much!

Mary said...

You are a fantastic writer! And your children are beautiful. I just love the red hair! I'd hoped I'd have some redheads, but it hasn't happened ;)