My beloved niece Laura gave birth on January 12 to a daughter named Anna Louise, the third of Laura and her husband Eli’s children. Three children! How could this be possible? I remember the day 31 years ago when Laura was born. I even remember what I was wearing, for crying out loud.
Although with Anna’s birth, I am technically a great aunt four times over — Laura’s three, and my second niece Julie’s can’t-get-enough-of-him whirlwind son Fielding — I simply can’t call myself that noun. It brings to mind wrinkles far deeper than mine, skin that smells like pancake makeup, and droopy bosoms underneath loose paisley print dresses.
So instead, I am Lolly, christened by Julie and worn proudly by enough-about-me. Let’s move on to Anna.
When my sister Jeanne, Laura’s mom, sent the first photo from the delivery room, I was mesmerized, my awe of life and of babies and of possibilities especially deep — and it tends to be deep anyway.
Maybe it’s because Anna and I are members of the 12 Club — my birthday is February 12; hers, January 12. Maybe it’s because I just needed a baby fix; after all, it’s been a whopping 16 months since Fielding was born. Or maybe it’s simply because reminders of life and of love come along at precisely the time that, for whatever reason, we need them.
At the hospital, I touched Anna’s softer-than-a-horse’s-nostril (Jeanne’s comparison) hair.. I cradled her longer than I could probably have held a weight her size. I ogled her sleeping face while questions jostled around in my heart: “Who will you be, little girl? What will you sound like? Who will you love? What books will you beg to hear, what songs will make you giggle, what will you do to make us all laugh when we know we shouldn’t be laughing?”
I remembered how, when the sun rose on my walk this morning, I had a wave of wonder to think that this was Anna’s very first sunrise, the dawning of a new day and of her life ahead.
Ah, the world awaits you, sweetheart. And I can’t help but feeling that because of you and your siblings and cousins — those related by blood as well as those merely linked by having 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes — it also awaits anew the rest of us.
So for you, baby girl; for giddy anticipation of what’s lies ahead; for the reminder that for all life’s complications and craziness it is, at its most basic, a miracle…The Grateful Runner (a.k.a. your Lolly) says thank you.