• Sandy Green


Before there was Avi, I had two little girls - Gabby and Elly. My Little Buddy and Small Fry. No, they aren’t my daughters but to simply call them my cousins doesn’t do our relationship justice.

I’ll back up. My mom and her younger brother have always been close, despite a 10 year difference in age. Uncle David was just a teenager when I was born and one of my first baby-outings was to send him off to his Senior Prom. For as long as I can remember, Uncle David and I have had a special relationship. As a kid, the most fun place in my grandparent’s house was his room (mattress on the floor, Beatles posters on the walls, lava lamps on the dresser). I always joke that Uncle David and I have lived parallel lives, just 20 years apart from each other. We both moved to Israel to the chagrin of our parents, we both had serious (and heartbreaking) relationships abroad, and we both ultimately moved back to the United States because we couldn’t be so far away from our family. We also both lived in New York City as ‘cool’ young single people before finding our soulmates, moving to the suburbs of New Jersey, and starting families of our own. I remember the first time I met his wife, my Aunt Grace, like it was yesterday. I remember the day he told me Grace was pregnant with my sweet girl, Gabby. And I remember the day I learned that she was pregnant again with my precocious girl, Elly.

Because of my relationship with Uncle David, his entire family has a special place in my heart. Grace is more like an older sister than an aunt. And then there’s Gabby and Elly. Gabby and Elly have my heart. People say that when you have a child of your own, you love them in ways you never thought possible. I think that even before I had Avi, I understood a small sliver of what that meant - that is how I love these girls. When Gabby was born, almost 13 years ago, I made a promise to myself. A promise that I would be an important part of her life. That her childhood would be filled with happy memories with me and that she would see me as a trusted friend and role model. I made the same promise when Elly was born and I have worked hard to fulfill that promise.

Gabby and Elly are (almost) 13 and 9 years old now. They are so grown up and mature - turning into incredible young women. When I was pregnant with Avi, I was excited to tell them and I wanted to include them as much as possible. Gabby (with Elly as her assistant) planned an amazing Gender Reveal party for us. They came to the hospital the day after he was born and a week later, they cooked us a delicious dinner to celebrate.

When Avi was about 3 months old, he and I continued a tradition that I started many years ago. We spent the entire weekend with Uncle David, Aunt Grace, Gabby and Elly at their house. From Friday night until Sunday morning, we ate meals together, watched TV, and participated in each other’s weekend activities. Gabby and Elly were dying to help with Avi, even willing to change diapers. As the two of them told me of their long-term plans with Avi (that included coming home from college to visit him) I had a realization that blew me away. Gabby and Elly love my son the way that I love them.

Every time I remember this, even as I type the words, I feel waves of emotion. As Avi grows up, I know that Gabby and Elly will be there for him. They will plan sleepovers and adventures and they will be his roles models.

Avi is, in so many ways, an extension of me. He carries my heart with him and will one day be my legacy. I want the world to love him, but more than that, I want those whom I love to love him. Gabby and Elly may not know it yet, but they honor me and our relationship every time they give Avi a bottle, change his diaper, ask to hold him, or kiss him on his forehead. What a beautiful torch we pass through the generations - my uncle to me, me to my cousins, and now my cousins to Avi. I hope he one day knows just how lucky he is to have them and that he has the opportunity one day to pass the torch.