“I begin to think there are better things than being comfortable.” -George MacDonald (At the Back of the North Wind)
For months I’ve guarded her night’s sleep, careful in our little one room house not to disturb her, always thankful to lay down myself, but it wasn’t yet 3:00 AM as I stood over the bassinet by our bed and scooped her up. She stretched as I carried her out into the cold, across the walkway we share with the guest house and into the fire lit room where my sister lay on the bed with her own baby, just an hour old.
I’ve seen many babies come now, in all kinds of ways, but always they come indignant, and always from those gathered around come the same questions— we lose our heads a little— How could someone so little belong here with us? How could someone so big come out of a woman? To the first we say she’ll grow so fast, and to the second, you’ll need to take it easy, knowing full well we haven’t answered a thing.
As I came and held my confused little bundle up to her cousin, everyone laughed because she smiled like it was Christmas morning, and it was, in a way– It was the morning of the advent of Evangeline, and what a very good bit of news she was, all red and hungry.
But it was an impulsive and nonsensical thing to do, for it took Helen awhile to get back to sleep. I did it because I’ve found that children, maybe especially little girls, love nothing more than to hear their birth stories…
“…and then you looked around, Sally, and tried to hold your head up from the start. You were a marvelous baby, that’s what everyone said.” She knows this by heart and loves to retell it herself.
“I wasn’t there yet,“ Adah will add. “I asked Mama where I was and she said I was in God’s plan.”
I guess I woke Helen up that night so that she could be there in Eva’s story, an important character on the scene, as the first of the children to meet her and the one closest to her age, only just arrived three months before, a sort of John the Baptist preparing the way, reminding us all of the disruptive gospel of every human child, a very costly grace.
But I also woke her up, in my sleep deprived foolishness, just because I wanted her to see what I was seeing and share my joy, and she did. She’ll remember it too, by the telling of the story, which is how we all remember the crucial things, now I come to think of it.