It's the day before the birthday and JR is over the clouds. Yesterday she picked out the cake to celebrate, the third pack of candles, the birthday horns in preparation for her first celebration. She glowed when she set the items on the checkout counter and was asked if she is getting ready for a party. "You are turning five, right?" she was asked and shyly she nodded, amazed that they had guessed.
I had spent the last few days invested in making her gift. I sorted through a thousand photos from the past months selecting those that portrayed her through the year. From her fourth birthday party in Beirut, through the snow in Morocco, the airport in Paris and her time in Arlington, VA to our move to Columbia, MD, her outdoor life in the suburbs and her time spent on vacation, the photos ran through her many moments and faces. There are happy faces, sad faces, sun-kissed faces, and glowing faces. There are faces on horses, faces on trees, astronaut faces and butterfly faces. There she is with Yousef, with her doll, with her self. She is running on the treadmill, riding her bike, jumping from higher and higher up. She is kneading, rolling, cutting. She is making bread, crackers, sushi. She is eating, hugging, kissing. She is checking us out at Trader Joe's, riding the duck boat on the lake, feeding the animals. She is picking fruit, reading books, smelling the flowers. She is guiding a military aircraft, dressing her dolls, getting her nails painted. She is building a city, playing with foam, dancing in the rain. She is serving me from her play kitchen, laying on a bed of nails, coloring with sidewalk chalk. She is being a girl, a four year old girl, a big sister, a first born. She is being Jannah-Rae.
I had spent hours going through the photos. I narrowed them down to a hundred. Then, I added a hundred more. I made them into a movie. I added music. I watched it over and over again. I edited it. I shared it with my friends. I then deleted it. I took it down. I removed it from the public sphere. It was my gift to her, and it was too special to spread out. I kept it on my computer, for her to see. She will love it, I am sure. I cannot wait to see.
Happy Birthday Jannah-Rae
I love you!