Tuesday, March 3, 2015

because she was certain

I would laugh too, but partly at him, afraid
Of becoming him. He could scowl anywhere,
Be solemn or blank in church or going to work,
Turn grim with a cold chisel, or he could smile
At babies or football games, but he only laughed
There in that theater. 
--My Father Laughing in the Chicago Theater, by David Wagoner

This little woman changed my world with her arrival seventeen years ago.

It is amazing how your world can change overnight, as a child enters the world--even if you're just a six-year-old girl in Daisy Scouts. But a baby, no matter where they enter the world, changes up the routine of the everyday, she changes the rhythm of whoever's life she happens to careen into.
This particular child ushered in a new era, which was, in a certain way the end of my childhood, as I became a Big Sister.
A child, still, certainly--just as much a child now as I was then--but also, not so much. I watched my mother be a mother and mimicked her every move.
I learned how to fret about making sure the baby gates were in place at the top of the stairs.
I learned how to flip through baby care books and read all the latest childcare literature.
I grew accustomed to the constant presence of baby toys, high chairs, and laundry loads of all cloth diapers.

There's something quite beautiful about younger siblings: siblings younger enough that you remember changing their diaper. It gives you a little taste, I suppose, of what parents might feel. It is nothing like what parents feel, but at least it gives you the consolation that you know how young children act, and understand the basics of how to care for them. It's like baby-care-bootcamp; very handy practices to have sitting around in your life skills tool box.

This particular baby, however, was unique in her own way.
She brought with her a breath of fresh air.
She was a child who proved to us all that there is more than one way for the story to go; that it is never too late to choose a different path.
She is a curveball, a plot thickener, a little signpost of grace.
She is, to put it in the most cliché manner possible, a miracle.
And her blue eyes still sparkle with the unquenchable Joy with which she was born.

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