On the day Holly was born, I held her for most of the day. Once in a while I laid her down while she was asleep, but mostly she snuggled into the crook of my arm. She dozed; I studied her face and wondered about her personality. She tried to take in some nourishment, in that uncertain, searching way that babies do in their first few days of life. Visitors came to see her: first her older brother, once he was awake and ready for an excursion to the hospital; later both sets of grandparents.
Yesterday, her ninth birthday, started out in sort of a parallel way. Rick and I greeted her as she made her way into our room as we were getting up in the morning; later, we woke Tim up so that he could join us in the breakfast festivities. He said a sleepy, seemingly sincere if not overly excited “Happy birthday” to her.
And like on her original birth day, she saw one set of grandparents, though she won’t see the other until the weekend. But unlike that day nine years ago when they peered at her in her hospital bassinet and kissed her dark damp hair while she slept, today she went out for lunch and to a movie with Grandma (The Smurfs, which she declared “Awesome” and “The best movie I’ve ever seen.” Hard to please, she’s not.).
Last night, at Holly’s request, we went to a minor league baseball game. I can’t say I observed Holly doing a single thing related to the concept of baseball: she didn’t cheer for any of the players or any of the action; she didn’t ask about the score; she didn’t comment on any great plays. Based on the way she spent the time, we could have just as easily been at a busy urban train station: eating a variety of not-very-healthful foods, watching the crowd, pointing out interesting or amusing aspects to the passing scene.
In so many ways, a nine-year-old is so different from a newborn. But on the way home from the baseball game, Holly became overtired and whimpery. When I drove into the garage and parked the car, she climbed out, and then said to me, “Will you hold my hand?”
Hand in hand, we walked into the house and up to her room so that she could put on pajamas and brush her teeth. All she wanted was to sleep. Yes, I kept her out a little too late; she was worn out. But it was worth it to me for the simple pleasure of feeling her take my hand to make our way into the house at the end of the night. That moment, more than any other part of the day, connected me to the day of her birth, nine years ago.