Wednesday, September 7, 2016

happy birthday, dannell

Here's a picture from a long time ago, but you both still look the same.

This is something I wrote back in 2002, back before you guys were married:

Happy New Year! This year our family will be getting bigger though not in the usual way we have.  Our oldest son and his girlfriend of many years have announced their engagement, so we are gaining a wonderful daughter-in-law, Dannell.  They will both graduate college in the spring and are eager to be students no longer, and to move into the next stage of life.  

They stopped by after the dinner John had so carefully planned, ring in his pocket, nervously hoping to get this special question just right, and even though the little kids were in pajamas by then, we had a raucous toast in the dining room and everyone cheered.
Later that night I was up with Timothy, walking around in the dark living room.  The dogwood bushes outside the windows are strung with Christmas lights and I turned those on because I like to look at them in the dark.  

I went upstairs and looked at the soft sleeping faces of each of the kids in their beds and then paused in the hallway and pushed the curtain aside to look out over the backyard and park behind, sea of twinkly crystal snow, swooping drifts spread out like frosting.

I think it was the multicolored hazy light coming up the stairway from the living room and the feel of cold glass on my forehead, the gray swirl of snow banks in moonlight, the weight of Timothy in my arms, but all at once, I remembered another night just exactly like this one, this exact time of year, right after Christmas, when I’d been awake because of my pregnant belly full of kicking Kari, and I’d stood right in that spot in the middle of the night and listened to John playing his guitar, tentatively picking out the notes to the theme song from MASH, a favorite program from his childhood.

Dannell had stayed with our family that Christmas too, (and even ended up with a concussion that year from hitting her head on the ice playing hockey) and was asleep in the bunk beds in Maria’s room downstairs. That guitar had been a Christmas gift from her.  

I’d stood there a long time, listening to the sweetly hesitant, but unmistakable tune, and wondered where life would take us soon, new baby coming, old babies growing up and out, having lives of their own, filling our house only sporadically on breaks from school.  And now here we are, planning a wedding, most glorious thing.  Kari is almost three, and we have a Timothy as well.

Here's a picture from now, fourteen years later?  Can that be right?

Well, anyway, thanks for being ours.

We love you dearly, and thank you for being patient with me and the rest of us.

Who has to raise children with their mother-in-law? That's weird, and a little annoying.

But we do it.  And the love is for real.

Happy Birthday, my friend.

We are lucky having you in this family.

Love forever, Jay and Val and Everybody

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