Ten years ago today I got a phone call from my mom. My nephew Ethan had been born. The next day I printed up a photo of him which had been emailed to me on the computer in the library (this was pre-laptop era). I hung it behind my desk in my classroom after sharing it with my first graders. I had been living on Saipan for about four months. My first full time teaching job. My first year living outside of the US. I remember writing a letter to Ethan to welcome him into the world. I wonder if either of his parents still have it. I imagine he would get a kick out of reading it, the prolific reader that he is. He is my first nephew. He was born the year I moved away. And now he’s ten. And I’m back on the continent again.
For ten years his birthday was a marker in the number of years I lived abroad. And a decade later, here I am, just Michigan’s Great Lakes separating us. No longer oceans.
Sebastian and I called Ethan tonight to wish him a happy birthday. As soon as Sebastian heard his voice via Skype he reached for the phone and smiled. During our conversation he was sure to make the sounds he makes when he’s trying to communicate, in response to what Ethan said and especially when I was telling Ethan about Sebastian going to school. I love how they love each other. And I love finally being close enough to help nurture that relationship, as well as with his other cousins.
Ethan is an amazing kid. I have a lot of memories and photos from the many times I visited over the years. Now I can call and not have to worry about the time difference. We can get in the car and celebrate holidays and special moments together. Sebastian can grow up knowing his cousins and loving each moment spent with them. And there will be many.
Happy birthday Ethan. We love you.