Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Lovely anniversary of sorts
It's been one year since I told the world you were preparing to grace it with your presence. Everyone's been excited ever since, and it's been the most incredible adventure ever. I wonder what we'll tell you about the first little bit of your life. Parts of it sound a little made-up. This is the best I can do:
We waited a long time for you. We knew we wanted you what seems like a lifetime ago. But we hadn't even known each other for a year! But we weren't married! Or finished with college! Or living in the same town!
So we waited for you.
While we waited, we worked on building a life you would want to be a part of. We grew closer to each other. We slogged our ways through school. We talked of a life where we'd see each other every day and how we would live it. All the while, your dad dreamed of raising a daughter. We didn't know how you would come to us--would we grow you ourselves? Would we have to wait for some nice people to give you to us? Would we find you on our doorstep?
We didn't know.
So we waited for you.
We got married. We paid off debts. We became partners. We chose friends who would be good aunts and uncles to you, and didn't worry about the people who wouldn't. Every now and then Dad would dream of a little girl. I settled into a job reading old rules. Dad fed people with his family. Our life was happy. Our life was rich with friends and books and good food and long walks.
Our life was ready for you.
And so you came.
You came and the world rejoiced. Our families cried and cheered and there so many hugs. People laughed and planned and asked a million questions about you. When we found out you were girl, everyone wanted to know your name. But we didn't know it! You were hard to label, even then. We wanted to make sure we got it right, and that you were you. We talked about your name all the time, but we were just happy to say "she" and "her" when we talked about you because we knew who we were talking about.
As I began to grow, strangers smiled at me because they knew you were coming and they were happy. Sometimes they would ask your name, too.
I loved carrying you everywhere. Slowly and ever more slowly, I carried you. To libraries and work. To parties and your grandparents' houses. Up hills and around puddles and across ice and through the neighborhood and in and out of laundromats, I carried you.
You became heavy and you seemed to be fighting your way out. I was afraid you would just crawl away like some mysterious creature once you were born and all of the waiting would have been for nothing.
But still we waited for you.
I left work a week before you supposed to be born because I thought I couldn't contain you any longer. But you stayed.
The town planted pink tulips everywhere for you. I would look at them and sigh, and wonder when you were coming to enjoy the beautiful spring. When we would hold you. When you would be named.
Three days after your due date, the wait ended. You were born. Everyone was so excited. People prayed and sent their well wishes. Your families dropped everything they were doing. Granddad broke some rules about how time and space work to be there for you.
You were born and you were perfect. The doctors and nurses said you were healthy and strong. Dad and I already knew. You didn't crawl away. You still wanted me to hold you. You were hungry. You missed me already and I prayed that I would be your favorite.
Dad said, "She doesn't look like a June" and I was startled because I'd forgotten you were nameless. You seemed so complete and whole, just as you were. You were Evelyn June, and you shared initials with your grandpa EA because only Aunt Laine thought I could name you Myrtle for our Mamaw. (Sometimes I still think you could perhaps be a Myrtle. Just a little bit.)
Everyone loved you.
People traveled from all around to meet you--Mt. Ida, Hot Springs, Memphis. Even Iowa! They held you and said your name and touched your hair and told us you were perfect.
We showed you the tulips.
You were immediately a happy and content baby. You loved being held, and fed, and you loved music. When you were 4 days old, you cried and I played "White Winter Hymnal" for you and you stopped. You frowned in concentration and I don't know if you could place the song from your days in my belly or not. But we loved to play music for you, and quickly learned you liked folk and country and would tolerate indie music and classic rock.
At nights I would walk with you, up and down the length of our little house. You wouldn't fall asleep because you were too interested in everything around you. You'd stare at the pictures on the walls and the books on the shelves with your mouth wide open, as if you couldn't believe all of this was for you. I would cry because I wanted to give you so much more.
Just when we'd found a routine, that little bit of a life we'd made was gone when a tree fell on our house. You were safe by the grace of God and because I love you too much for anything to happen. I held you tightly and Dad found you a blanket and we left. People gathered from all over the neighborhood to see the tree on our house, and wound up looking at you instead. Everyone was so happy you were safe, and everyone was amazed that you were so perfect.
For the next week or so, the three of us slept in Dicy's bed and I believed that if I held you, you would be safe. And so you were. You loved seeing more of your grandma and uncles, and adjusted to the change beautifully. While you continued to thrive through more storms and tornadoes and floods, Gil and Granddad and Levi washed your toys and blankets. Gil restored your Easter basket to perfection. Dicy cuddled you to sleep. Granddad looked high and low for a place for you to live. But Dad found your new home practically in our back yard!
And so we moved. We carried you for walks through the same neighborhood, to the grocery store and the library and the farmers market. Everyone knew you and everyone loved you.
You traveled to the Ozarks, Heber Springs, and Oklahoma. It was lovely. You met family. I bought fabric to make you a quilt. We were regulars at Dad's restaurant. We found a nighttime routine.
Then I went back to work. Dad became more confident and took such good care of you every morning, and all day on Mondays. Gil and Granddad watched you in the afternoons. Sometimes Aunt Jessi or Uncle Casey would keep you. Then I changed my work so that I could come home on some afternoons. The wait for that change was long and sad. I was so happy to see you!
You go on trips and are the star of every party. You have a library card. You laugh and socialize and explore. You are fascinating.
You are so loved.
You are cared for by family, and adored by friends. You grow and change every day. We can see you learning more and more about your world and your abilities every minute you're awake and it thrills us to no end.
I hope this record is enough. There's so much I've already forgotten. I can remember all the disappointments and fears well enough, and if you really feel like you need to know all the ways we failed you in spite of our best efforts, I'll tell you some time. But I hope you like reading this someday. I hope you know how much we love you and how hard we've tried to take care of you and how much we love being your parents.
This past year has been exciting, interesting, surprising, and sometimes just plain hard. Actually, a lot of it's been hard. But I've seen Dad smile and laugh more in this year than in the entire time I've known him. I have never been this fearful and grateful and content and so filled with joy. Disasters have been everywhere. People have been sick and hurting and crises occur nearly every month. You are the bright spot in everything. We thought we needed to prepare ourselves for the upheaval and disruption you would bring, but you are a precious gift. You are the best part of our lives and bring us so much joy.
I have been talking about you for a year now and I love it.
And I love you.
It's been quite a year indeed.