Right about then I really realized that today is his 35th birthday. That means it's January 8th. It's also Elvis' birthday and the day that my boss and his wife find out what flavor baby they're having. And if it's January 8th, tomorrow is the 9th. For the first time, um, ever, it just crept up on me like that, when I wasn't even looking for it.
One thing, with sickening predictability, has continued to lead directly to the other.
It's been 18 years since January 9th. 18 years is a long time to be without your mother. 18 years is just enough time, apparently, for that scar to start to heal. January 7th was no less hard, no less frightening, and yet I managed to let the mundane little aspects of this new life I was re-born into 18 years ago drown that hardness, that fear, right out until just about dinner-time. Maybe there's an actual reason that 18 is the year we are considered adults after all.
And while I was thinking about all of this last night, I realized that in two weeks my little baby nephew will turn 18, too. Hello, one thing...meet the other.
I just cannot believe that it took me all of this time to realize that 13 days after everything I ever knew and loved ended, everything he was ever to know and love began. That maybe in some weird way, that boy who was born in a hospital bed on January 22nd, 1992 in Fresno, California is the new version of the child that died on January 9th, 1992 in a telephone booth at the Philadelphia International Airport. That maybe that explains why I love him so much more than is reasonable for an auntie-in-law-by-adoption to love a nephew she didn't even meet until he was seven. That maybe he's the ying to my yang, my balance, my reckoning...maybe he's my Phoenix.
Maybe my nephew is what makes all of those awful years, all of those terrifying hours, okay. Or maybe it's the dishes that always have to be washed and the baby dolls that have to be played with and the newsletters that have to be written and the toilets that have to get unplugged. Maybe it's this new life that is so much more real and consistent and predictable and mundane than that old one ever was. Maybe it's this family which isn't glued together with a shoddy DNA code and the stickiness of fear, but that it's my family, my choice, and we hold each other together with so much more love than I ever thought the world was capable of feeling.
Whatever it is, it's working. I almost forgot that every January has a 9 in it. I was almost able to let it pass my by this year. Tomorrow my husband and I will leave the kids tied to the radiators and go out to dinner. We'll drink a bottle of fabulous wine and eat something with unpronounceable ingredients in it and we will celebrate this life that is perfect and wonderful and all I ever needed, this life that only took the shattered remnants of an old, ruined one to build itself up on. Maybe we'll go to the gym after, maybe we'll come home, watch a movie, and catch up on 9 days of New Year's sexolutions. Whatever happens tomorrow, well, it just happens. This life will keep marching on and I will keep living it.
Come what may, I will keep living.