I've been meaning to write this for over two weeks now, and I just can't find the words. My aunt, your great aunt, Zsuzsa Néni, was one of the biggest presences in my life. She was larger than life, always busy, always working to make things nicer for her family. Every time we went to Hungary, she organized huge get-togethers so that we could see "everyone," she had opinions about, well, everything, and she was happiest with lots and lots of people surrounding her.
Having said all of that, if I was sad and needed someone to talk to during my Fulbright year, she would happily sit and chat, and she actually listened (a skill that, you will learn, is a really rare one).
When she heard about you, she was thrilled to have someone with Down Syndrome in our family. You unfortunately did not get to spend too much time with her, but when we went to Hungary, we always spent time at their summer house (now my cousin's summer house) in Bükkszentkereszt (don't worry if you can't pronounce that).
Here we are cooking Hungarian bacon- basically, you hold the bacon over the fire and drip the fat onto bread that has been topped with onions. Very different from our version of bacon, but you definitely enjoyed it, especially the bread.
This summer, we went to Hungary again- she had cancer which had metastasized (spread) from her breast to her spine, and we knew she wouldn't have much time left.
Watching you with her was one of the sweetest things in the world. Even though you always play hard, you knew to be gentle, to snuggle, to give her what she most needed: pure love. This is one of my favorite pictures of you:
She had this poem read at her funeral, and I think it's just beautiful. Here's my attempt at a translation:
Trees, Stars, Animals and Rocks
Love my Children.
If they were far away from me,
I have always trusted you with their fate.
You have always been good to me,
Love them if I die.
Winter, spring, summer, fall, rivers, islands
Love my Children.
You, sandy, rocky, or asphalt street
Lead carefully the girl, the boy
You teach and nurture too, dear Sun
Sneak your rays into their pockets
And all of you, living and dead materials
Teach them, clouds and eagles
Wild lightning, good ants, little snails
Take care of them, enormous world.
People are wicked, I do not trust them
But fire, water, sky, and earth are my true relatives.
True family, I turn to you
I will become fire, water, sky, and earth if I die
Fire, water, sky, earth and all the gods
Please love those whom I love.
Zsuzsa Néni saw you as one of her children, and I know we will see her often, in the fire, the water, the sky, the earth, the lovely animals, and, of course, the orchids, which she loved.