When I found out he was coming, I was terrified.
I was afraid for all the hurt and tears and pain that might be waiting for the people I loved the most – my brother, my niece or nephew, my sister-in-love who seemed naively optimistic. I couldn’t untangle my grief over Jay being arrested with the news that he was going to be a father.
But she knew better.
Bre, my brother’s girlfriend, spoke of their unborn child with nothing but abundant love and hope from the very beginning. She fought back when I tried to make her see reason and insisted that she would choose optimism. She stood her stubbornly happy ground until the rest of us came around.
And of course, we did. Because the fear was always rooted in love and a deep desire to protect the ones we loved – both here and not yet here – from heartache. But eventually the love and hope wins out and you realize that you have to let go of the fear if you’re going to make room for the magic.
And oh, Lord, there is so much magic to let in.
Jude Michael was born at 10:46 Friday morning. He weighed 7 pounds, 11.5 ounces and measured 20 inches long.
His mother amazed even my mother, a nurse and a woman who has given birth to three children herself and been present at all of her grandchildren’s births. She was strong and brave, just as she has been since the day she found out she was going to be his mother.
I am in awe of this woman. She endured a pregnancy alone without self pity. She is always doing, “pretty well, I think. You know, we’re doing the best we can.”
She humbles me.
When my mom called to share the news with me yesterday, she told me that they had called Jay right after the birth. My heart exploded in my chest and silent tears instantly poured down my cheeks. Standing in a kitchen 1400 miles away, I was crushed by the sadness of what had been missed, of what could never be recaptured. My body ached with longing. I was at once inside my brother’s heart, swimming in his pain, and inside the heart of a big sister who was desperate to find a way to make things better.
“I think we’re coping pretty well,” Bre said when I asked how she and Jay were holding up. I swallowed my sadness. If she could face her life with so much grace and strength, I could certainly do the same as an outsider wanting to hold them up.
I do not know where she gets her strength, but I am both grateful for it and ashamed that she had to lead us.
I could not wish for a better mother for my beautiful nephew.