Saturday, April 7, 2012

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Perhaps one thing only is more exciting than the birth of a child, and that is learning a new baby is on the way.  We were lucky parents; there was never great drama involved with our pregnancies and births.  That never stopped the prospective grandparents from figuratively jumping up and down, clapping their hands, even if these actions were never performed literally.  Our children have been more imaginative, presenting us with a box of 'Uncle Ben's Rice' for grandson number one and a improbably magnificent May trifecta in 2007. Josh honored his great grandpa by appearing on Grandpa Charlie's birthday.

But this type of glad tidings cannot be passe' and never gets old.  Meeting Ben late one Friday at Reagan National was cause enough to celebrate, but we thought it might have been just a little late to have a nightcap that evening when he carried a bottle upstairs in the Hampton Inn.  Ben had picked up a bottle of nice Barboursville wine en route from Charlottesville and carefully wrapped three gimme wine glasses in dish towels from home.  There was method to his madness.  Here, Mom, let me show you what we got for Kenzie's birthday?, he suggested, holding out his phone with a picture of a nice roomy rocking chair.  That's very nice, and a good idea, I say, knowing a new chair has been on their short list of home improvements.  You see, he adds, a bit slyly, people in our situation might be needing a rocking chair....trailing off with a monster grin beginning with the hairs on his head and reverberating clear down to his tennis shoes as his slightly slow, but now overjoyed mother shrieks and envelops him in a hug.  Such stealthy children~ saving up this banner headline of good news until each set of prospective grandparents can hear it in person.  Two time zones away, Kenzie is getting the chance to tell her folks they will be grandma and grandpa for the first time.  Glory be and thanks, indeed! A toast to us all, mommy and dad to be, aunties, uncles, cousins, great grandparents, and a grandma and grandpa overjoyed to share the excitement of a young couple that had been waiting patiently for their family.

But just two days later, I was headed home because little Josh's smashed thumb had not healed properly; surgery was necessary. Mommy, Daddy and Josh were at Community Hospital while Lizzie and Aaron stayed with Aunt Leo and Uncle Ryan.  It was time to turn worry into action, to pray while working.  Fear, regret, nagging sadness battled with hope and a faith that this too was a obstacle to get through, not give in to.  Josh wanted to walk around; if we picked him up, he'd wave ' bye', willing us to take him away from the room, the iv, the poking around.  A ride in the wheel chair was better than nothing.  Annie and Matt were grateful to everyone for their kindness, but showed the strain and helplessness we all feel when our little ones hurt.

Years and years ago, Jerry Jeff Walker recorded a song about his little boy.  The lyrics resonated with a new mom of a new baby least this is how I remember them:

'They say a man in his time affects all mankind if he does what he sees must be done...
 So I humbly ask of all reasonable men, make a world that is safe for my son..'

This is the unspoken desire of every parent peeking in on their child at night, checking for chilly toes or just the reassurance of a cool brow or quiet breathing.  It is the prayer every morning of mothers and fathers with children miles away.  It is one way we can touch the finger of God, knowing His Son was left in harm's way, a sacrifice of Father and Son to redeem the whole wayward human race.  If this choice were ours to make, how could we?  'Now we see in a glass darkly...'  Even as fallen humanity, we can scarcely bear the thought.

With Easter morning upon us, with full knowledge that there is no bona fide iron clad bubble wrap to protect them,  I too humbly ask in my prayers at work, at sleep, watching my children and grandchildren and waiting eagerly for this new little person to appear 'for a world that is safe'......

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