Last week massive storms ripped a 2,000-mile swath across the land. On Tuesday at 1:32 am, in the middle of the heavy Wisconsin blizzard, a text message appeared on my cell. It was from my brother. “At the hospital,” his words read. I didn’t actually see the message until I woke around 5:30. By then more messages revealed that, a few hours earlier, my niece had given birth to her second daughter.
Out of the snowy dark came the glorious wonder of life.
A few days later, I received another sort of message from a dear friend, also in Wisconsin. “My son died yesterday afternoon,” she wrote in part. “I was with him and sent him on his way.”
Out of the snowy dark came the terrible wonder of death.
I understand the joy my niece feels. After all, I’m a mother with three children of my own. Only a newborn baby can bring such a glad fullness to the heart. The memories of those early hours never leave.
When I learned of the birth, I wanted to hug my niece and her new daughter. But hugs will have to wait until my visit in May. My grand-niece will no longer be a newborn then, but I will hold her and welcome her into my life.
It seems to be a time of new babies in our family. A happy time. Sadly, it’s also a time of passing. In the last few years alone, we have lost four loved ones.
Through those losses, and others, I understand a little of what my friend feels. And, just as I wanted to hold my newborn grand-niece on learning of her arrival, I wanted to hug my friend in comfort at her loss.
Life and death touches us all at the most basic level. They are shared experiences. Sometimes I am awed to see the depth of caring generated by others when babies are born, or when people pass from this life. To me those feelings reveal the inherent goodness in humanity.
As a writer, it is something I hope I re-create in my stories.
Welcome, Avaeh Nicole! Rest in peace and love, Jimbo. ∞