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On the Day Before You Were Born

TALKING TO MYSELF: 2 October 2012   I don’t remember much about the day you were born because I was pretty tired. On the day before you were born, however, your mother’s people had an impromptu party at your house in Cincinnati. Your dad and your Uncle Tim went to a Reds baseball game, but the rest of us, Aunt Shan and Aunt Becky, your cousins Jared, Eliza and Owen, and your grandfather and I ate and laughed and took a long walk in the fine autumn sun.

We needed a party. Your mom had been on bed rest for three months because you had tried to get yourself born way too early. Frankly, my dear, you worried us to death that summer, but by October 1, we had begun to relax and trust that you would be okay.

My time had been divided through the summer and fall between your mother and my own. You’re way too young to understand what it feels like to be wedged between two generations, balancing the lives of both in your heart, knowing that each needs you in ways they never had before.  We would lose my mother less than three months after your birth, but she got to hold you in her arms and know that you were fine. I am glad for that. She fretted about you so in those months before your birth, willing I think to trade whatever time she may have had left for your healthy arrival into the world.

The baseball game ran long and the traffic was heavy. It was late when your Dad and Uncle Tim returned to the house, but we waited until they did. We stood in the dark of your front lawn lingering over our farewells, reluctant to leave your mother, hesitant about going our separate ways. “I’m fine,” she said. “No baby coming tonight.” There was nothing left to do but leave. Uncle Tim and Aunt Becky buckled your cousins into their car seats and headed west to Indianapolis. Aunt Shan, Granddaddy and I drove south on I-75 to our home in Lexington.

I was tired when we pulled into our driveway an hour and a half later, and I was looking forward to slipping between the covers on my bed. As I walked into the house, however, the phone was ringing. It was your mother. She was both crying and laughing as she announced that she was on her way to the hospital. Granddaddy and I turned right around and got back in the car without changing clothes, stopped at the McDonalds drive-through for cups of coffee, and drove straight back up the interstate to Cincinnati. We spent the night sitting on two of the hardest chairs in the universe, waiting for your birth at 7:11 on the morning of October 2. I was tired, but it was a happy day.

And so is today, your sixth birthday. Happy, happy, happy our sweet Annelise. In my memory, six was one of the best years of my life, and I predict you’re going to love it.