The expected birth found us ready and waiting, for the last two weeks. Neighbor Mom and Dad were ready to go to St. Anthony Hospital and, along with other neighbors, we were ready, on call, to watch the baby’s three-year old sibling when the time came.
An ultrasound showed the baby, not so much waiting as hanging out content as a pearl in a shell.
So, let’s briefly go back in time.
Oblivious to a near future, the pregnancy was celebrated before epidemical rumblings turned into roars. We could easily foresee, along with their three-year old and our two grandchildren, another child happily loping around on our lawns with no fences between.
Happiness wasn’t dampened as time passed and circumstances changed. But travel restrictions brought about some rethinking.
The neighbor’s immediate family members live far away.
The parents got caught in conversations between us neighbors offering to help and their families wanting to travel to help during the birth.
How do we comfort the joyful yearning to share the birth, but the need to stay home?
I lessened my judgmentalism about people traveling. Birth and death define human life but it’s the love in between that lives. I could respect their decision to travel. But as it turned out, they found comfort in staying home.
Fast forward to last Friday night, when all of us near and far, were texted a photo of the newly born infant. Picturesque. Powerful. Pure.
Another neighbor was home with the three-year old.
The birth went well. But the professionals wanted to watch Mom and Baby for 48 hours. So Dad came home, spent time with their three-year old and then brought him to our house before returning to the hospital.
Grinning ear to ear, Neighbor Dad was operating on adrenaline. Their three-year old caught the eye of our three-year old grandson and they nearly collided with excitement to go play. The noise level of the house ramped up double notches. Our daughter and I stood and smiled and nodded as the enamored dad told us details.
After the dad left our house to go to the hospital. After their son and our grandson played until they because starved. We congregated in the kitchen for some chow.
I asked the three-year old, “What is your baby brother’s name?”
“Baby Brother,” he said.
Sometimes I too can’t remember names or the correct words, but it doesn’t lessen the meaning or anticipation of joy.
Sure enough, the three-year old expressed unadulterated joy a few days later when we came to see his baby brother. His joy wasn’t dampened by the fact we all stood a ten-foot distance away on the porch. Neither was ours. Joy closed the gap.