I am very familiar with hospital waiting rooms – with all the years my father was in and out for one reason or another I was well rehearsed for Friday, July 18, 2008. But this day was, by all accounts, a different hospital experience for my family. This was a day of joy, a day to celebrate new life. My brother, Jason, and his wife were expecting their first child, a daughter.
I do not think I will ever forget Jason’s excitement nor the smile on his face as he stepped into the waiting room. He was holding his wrist to show us his new pink hospital bracelet as he said, “She’s here!” We all stood around him as he gushed over her and filled us in on all the details -and he just beamed. I could see that something lit up inside my brother that day. The breath of new life had replaced his often worried brow with tear-filled eyes and a happiness that I could never even begin to describe. Little Kelsey had stolen her father’s heart.
In recent years my family has experienced so many life changing events. We have all been through a great deal with my mother’s breast cancer to her hip replacement surgery and my father’s ongoing health issues which lead to his untimely death. Somehow in the middle of all the turmoil our relationships with each other have become strained and distant. This is something that years ago I would have never predicted for our family.
But as we stood in the hallway waiting to get the first glimpse of our newest family member I could hear her crying. The breath of new life from this sweet baby girl reminded me just how important all my family is to me. She refreshed my outlook and provided the bridge to help close the gap between each of us. She’s quite a powerful little girl and she doesn’t even know it.
That’s not to say that all things are perfect, that all wounds are healed, or that all the hurt feelings can be completely swept into the past. But she may just be that common thread that helps pull us all together again. She may just be the breath of new life our family needs.
As I held her in my arms that afternoon I couldn’t believe my big brother was now a father. I mean is this really the same person that used to wrestle me to the ground and tickle me until I would scream so loud that Mom would have to come intervene? I suppose he is. After all, when we were young he really was one of the best brothers a girl could have. He would help me with my homework and, get this, let me tag along on his dates (really, he did). I can see from my experiences that he will also be one of the best fathers a girl could have. He was raised by two of the greatest parents and so I know his priorities and values are in the right place.
But all this thinking about what kind of father he would make, I couldn’t help but wonder how much he missed our father on this day. I know I did. I thought about the sweet moment he has missed having his father there when he, himself, became a father. What I would have given, if but for a moment, our dad could have held his granddaughter and that Jason could have had that moment. As long as I live, every chance I get, little Kelsey will get to know all about her Grandpa. I will make sure of that.
So with all that said, the next generation of our family has arrived. She is the breath of new life that will hopefully soften our hearts and remind us all that family is family through the good and the bad. She will remind us that life goes on.
“Every child begins the world again.” ~Henry David Thoreau