To my sister's son,
In one month we expect your arrival. You will go from a warm, comfortable, quiet pocket, where you ruminated on the sound of your mother's heartbeat, and you will have a terrifying exodus into another reality, a loud place with assaulting smells and piercing lights and cold gusts of air. You will have to cry to get your food, your warmth, your oxygen, that things that used to come you intravenously, in capillary caravans. But you will get used to it. You will have a good mother, and a good father, and they will wrap you in felt blankets and cradle you, because your mother knows all about oxytocin and bonding and ventral contact. Your mother went to Cornell (and so did your father - that's where he fell in love with her), you know, even if that doesn't mean much to you now. They will keep you at just the distance that your wary eyes, getting used to all this glimmer and contrast and shape, can focus on the beautiful symmetry of their faces. And right away, you will know how to grasp their fingers.
Judging from your parents, you'll be a very good-looking boy, but don't ever worry about that. From the very moment that you're born, we will declare you to be the most beautiful thing in the universe, even though you maybe a little wrinkled and pink and egg-shaped. That comes of being new to the neighborhood. And if we think you're beautiful from the start, imagine how much more handsome you'll get!
And you'll grow! How fast you'll grow! You will crawl and walk and scrape your knees and play with the cardboard packaging instead of your presents the day after Christmas. You will learn how to spell words like Mississippi, and you will learn how to mock the Harvard hockey team, and you will be Joseph in the Sunday school nativity, and you will learn to drive a tractor.
And you'll have cousins. How soon I cannot promise, but I'll do my best.
And oh, my sister's son, you will have love. You will have the love of your grandmother Shannon, with its strength like granite and its tenderness like rain. You will have the love of your parents, whick you will never know the bottom of. You will have the love of your aunts and uncles from every side. (Even before you're born, I am your partisan, your cheerleader, your storyteller, and you have an entire valley of relatives whole introduce you to El Sarape.) You will have the love of God and all his angels, and you will spend eternity trying to bend your mind around it.
Come right on time, but make it soon, my sister's son.
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