Letter to a New Arrival

Dear Aaron, I'M seated in an airplane headed home. I'm writing on a napkin and the back of a ticket folder. I'd like to stand up and shout - ``Hey! Aaron has arrived!'' But these people might not understand, unless they too have welcomed a grandchild onto the planet.

I won't see you again until summer, so I am carefully storing the sight, and sound, and feel, and sweet smell of you. The way you sigh, or frown and cry, the feel of your solid little body in my arms or on my shoulder, your pursed lips, your dark blue eyes, and your Buddha belly.

We met and parted in the airport, you and I, I cried when I first saw you, but today I smiled when we parted. Your mother wanted to disturb your slumber and lift you from the car seat to see me off inside the airport.

``We need to introduce him to all the wonderful things in this world,'' she said. ``We need to keep sharing the wonder with him.''

But you and I won the argument and sent you both scooting back home to Dad. Besides, you and I know there are some things you can never really share.

You have to live them yourself - when you're ready. What do you care now about a jet airliner? And the really special things, you have to experience in your soul.

For instance, once your mom was exactly what you are now... 10 pounds of wonder in my arms. But could I have told her what she'd feel today?

Well, I could have tried, of course, but it took you to make her live the miracle. Thank you for that.

The way your mother holds you, and looks at you, and sings to you, and naps with you on her chest (``He listens to my heartbeat'') ... and holds you, and looks at you, and loves you, and feeds you at her breast ... is something to behold. As old as the mountains, as new as the sunrise.

Your dad says he doesn't know why you have a cradle, you're never in it. He says we only let him hold you if he's good. The truth is the men in the family were your real welcoming committee. Mom says she could never have delivered their 8-pounder without Dad's coaching. And after you were born, Dad brought you to Mom in his arms.

Personally, I'm grateful you fellows so righted my daughter's life. She told me that herself, so I know it's true. She needn't have put it into words. I'm pretty naive, but even I could see that - plain as the Cheslak nose on your face.

I had my welcome plans all made, but you fooled us by arriving one month early. So Grandpa took time off and rushed to Wisconsin. Yes, Grandpa! Let me tell you a secret - Grandpa never takes time off; not suddenly like that, except for major miracles.

``Did you change diapers?'' I asked when he came home.

``No, but I offered.''

``Did you cook? Wash clothes? Clean the house?''

``It wasn't important,'' he said. Getting to know his grandson was important. Letting his daughter get plenty of sleep was important.

Before you were born, I wrote a very dear friend telling her my two childless daughters were having babies - late in life. I called it the coming of the light. You might also call that the hand of God. Or, you might call it Love. It's all the same thing.

Imagine my surprise when your parents' name book said Aaron means ``the light.'' Listen, Aaron, funny little exciting surprises like that happen all the time in everyone's life. Some people call them coincidences. I'm not always so sure.

A monk named Thomas Merton said such synchronicity (fancy word for joyful happenstance) is ``God saying Hi.''

Pay attention to that stuff all your life.

And for heaven's sake, don't let your name scare you. Sounds like a lot to live up to - Right? Hey! Not to worry. It's your nature.


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