She is 17 today. Born in the shadow of war – two days after the “shock and awe” Iraq invasion began. I remember the time as so dissonant emotionally – the strange and wonderful first days of having our second child against a backdrop of utter horror and revulsion at what our government was doing in the name of “freedom” on the other side of the globe. It was hard to feel hopeful, and yet, how could I not when I looked into those big (and still) blue eyes, felt that reflexive grip of those tiny hands? Our instinct from birth is to Hold On. I hate that this is what I remember when I think about those first days with tiny Alice, but I don’t get to control all the things, so I take the good with the bad. A few other things happened in 2003. Scientists finished mapping the human genome that year, which transformed the way we think about disease and opened up unimagined possibilities and has spurred a generation of research and discovery.
I’m thinking about both of those things as I celebrate my beautiful, artistic, big hearted and big feelings girl today. The way we weather the unknown and despair, the way we keep holding on. The way the life can surprise and delight just as easily as it can disappoint and disrupt. We never know what is coming around the corner, and thank god for that. I couldn’t have imagined 17 years ago the wild ride of raising this phenomenal young woman, and while I think we would both agree that it hasn’t always been easy, I wouldn’t take back a single minute of it. Happy Birthday, Alice.