Monday, January 24, 2011

Old and New Family

“What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” ~George Eliot

I hear the small voice of a toddler, most likely. He's cooing a couple of seats in front of me. And then, he screams. And cries for a while. And then he settles down and starts asking his mommy, in his small voice, questions in French ...

For the first time, maybe, ever, on an airplane, I am not mad at the loud little man, taking over the acoustic space of the cabin, and every brain cell we have. For the first time, I smile and he makes me miss my nephew, Patrick.

I am flying back, from a week of spending time with my sister, in Canada, and her family, and my mom, who is visiting her. My sis is expecting her second and she needs a lot of care, love, and hands on help right about now ... After a week of constant baby talk, with Patrick, I am starting to like it. Well, I like his, anyway! I say "baby talk", but he talks quite like a little young man. A bit of French, a bit of Romanian, and a lot of a 2 and a half year old’s wisdom make him a bundle of creativity and permanent surprise.

He is so much like her: beautiful, sweet, vulnerable, fragile and smart; he is some like his dad, too: extremely assertive, strong, curious and tall, and ultimately, a lot like himself: funny, creative, unafraid, and incredibly unique and lively. I recognize a lot of our own families in him, and yet he shocks me every second with how much of his own person he is.

It was amazing to see my baby sister, who has always leaned on me before, becoming such a power house for Patrick. She is his rock. His playmate, his confidante, his “protectrice” when he's in trouble with dad. He must utter “mommy” at least 1000 times a day! He does nothing without her acknowledgment ...She still relies on me and mom, just like the old times, on things, but now, she has her own huge responsibility to carry on. The mechanics of our family have definitely become more complicated. And it’s so much fun to watch how families change, and grow, and yet everything stems from the same love and acceptance, as before.

Seeing my sister has always been top on the list of my travels. It’s my yearly spiritual journey, one I cannot live without, because it centers me, and brings me back to the depth of who I am. But since Patrick, our visits have acquired a new dimension: we have always had the past, and we always talked about our childhood. We never much thought further than the now, though. With him, and his future new brother in the picture, “tomorrow” is very much in the equation. And I am realizing that nothing makes me ponder more upon my own existence as well as the relativity of it as a child does. Especially a child related to me, flesh and blood. He makes me, as I know he does his parents, more responsible and more attentive to every action. He is the promise that the world as I know it will live on ... in possibly a better way.

I love my own life. And children are not in the cards in our house. And thus I am doubly grateful to my baby sister for giving me the family I cannot have for myself, and making me part of it. She allows me to be not just a happy voyeur into their life, but an intrinsic part of their universe. I have found myself growing with her, and with Patrick, over the past three years, and I am very much looking forward to the day when he, too, will be consciously and verbally aware of the bond we have. For now, I am happy to just be “Alina, the godmother and aunt, mommy’s sister from America” to him. And that’s quiet a mouthful for a two year old!

I am also looking forward to the new baby! Another opportunity to know, and learn, and laugh, and love ... and move on.

Patrick - a very rare moment of rest.

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