Lysje Gertrude VanDeWal,

At 2:22 in the morning, I sat in a hospital room, and watched you being born. Without a doubt, it was the most astounding thing I have ever seen.

I still haven't completely processed the whole experience, and I'm not sure that I ever really will. At this point, I am merely grateful that I was able to be there for the whole thing. As your aunt and I won't be having any children of our own, I'm sure that this is as close to a birth as I will ever be. I was happy to be there, and I was happy to see you.

The name you carry is very important, as I'm sure you will know soon. Lysje was my grandmother's name, your great-grandmother. When she came over from Loosdrecht in 1920, they changed her name to Elizabeth at Ellis Island. I don't think I knew about this name switch until a few years ago, when going over some ship manifests your Uncle Steven has located. When I suggested the name to your parents I saw your mother's eyes light up.

I have a clandestine audio recording of the hour surrounding your arrival, and I've been listening to it every few hours, trying to imprint the whole event even more fully into my brain. I'm not sure if this is the best thing that I should be doing, as I end up getting all emotional and weepy every single time. I wanted to make sure that I had something like that for you, and by extension for all of us. So much of these things are a mystery for all of us, and I wanted to be able to give you something that would help to shed some light on it for when you're ready.

Your birth came at a strange time of the year for our family. There is a lot of pain over events that happened well before your were born. I hope that your birth helps to shed a bit more joy on our family for this time of year. One day, I will tell you about all of it, and hopefully it will help you make some sense out of all of us.

It's been decades since there was a little VanDeWal girl. I'm so glad you're here.

- Uncle Tim

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