The light

I am the midnight visitor in my Virginia house on Cedar Lane. The house feels warm on on this July night. Everyone, including my four month-old niece Ayla, is asleep. I peek inside the room she is in. She has one hand up by her cheek- this is her sleeping habit. Before leaning in to give her a quick kiss, I look at her mother who is ready to sleep. My sister gives me her reassuring smile. Ayla moves a little bit; I suddenly fear that I have broken her peace. But she sweetly remains asleep as if the kiss was only part of her dream.
There are no traces of sadness or of loss here. There is only the warmth of a newborn, the pure baby smell that’s found nowhere else, and the echoing laughter that lingers even on a silent night like this.
Upstairs in my old room, there is now Ayla’s belongings. Her parents are looking for a house to buy, so their stay is also temporary. Aside from a few photographs of mine left on the wall, the room is no longer tainted by my nostalgia, but filled with Ayla’s light- her little stuffed animals, her gifts from family and friends, her hospital blanket.
I don’t know if we buried our sufferings, the old pain, the old tears. Sometimes they resurface, at least they do for me. But the overarching, the ultimate peace has been reached. Twenty-four years ago, after years of sadness, loss, and revolution, my birth brought light in my family’s life. Today, Ayla is the life and light that we needed again to keep living.
I am the midnight visitor. I have a plane to catch in a few hours back to New York. I leave my parents a note in Farsi: “I stayed the night, but missed you. Love you both.”

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