Wednesday, May 11, 2011


As I hold my newborn granddaughter in my arms, marveling at her full head of almost-black hair, stroking her petal soft cheek, smelling her baby perfume, I'm transported back to the six times I experienced this joy myself, and the one time it was withheld from me.

My heart is full with memories. All at once I'm there; welcoming my firstborn, so like me I'm breathless. I am only 21, naive, inexperienced. I have never held a baby before. Will I break her? Will she break me?

Only sixteen months later I am in the same hospital, in the same room, in the same bed, gazing into the eyes of a chubby little girl who is gentle and observant from the very first. Now she is the Mother, and as I help her to walk to the bathroom, as she recovers from the birth of her second-born, I'm overcome with the surreal nature of it all. Could it be that she is now a parent, I the grandmother of this little one and three others? Wasn't I just moments ago wondering at the birth of my own daughters?

Then, I recall the four boys that followed. The long labor that brought me my firstborn son, who at 19 continues to tug at his Mama's heart. My next, my biggest baby, my boy who is so righteous and strong and pure; a champion. My fifth child, the only one we "tried" to conceive, who we teased because he was bald. He was like a little lamb, so sweet, so quiet. Now, at 11, he is as tall as I.

When the sixth one came, I prayed for a girl. I got another son; he teased us from the first moment, rolling and turning and playing hide and seek. When he is born I am in love, so thankful for another son, so enthralled with his black hair and rosy face and spunk. Now he reads stories to me and falls asleep singing. I am smitten still.

When I am 40, and I think my baby days are over, I am waiting for a little girl. I can't believe she is a girl! The blue baby days are gone; these are brilliant in pink. When she arrives, she is so tiny I can't believe she is mine. And she is not pink, as she should be. With this precious angel I am denied the blessing of holding her in my arms at birth. I am denied much with her, but I am given more than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. She leaves me at such a young age to go home to heaven...but she is my baby forever, my purest, sweetest blossom that will never ever fade. I miss her, but then I look into the eyes of my newborn granddaughter....

My fourth grandchild. As the first three arrived - and one, only eight weeks ago! - I am each time so overcome with joy and gratitude that I can hardly stand. How can it be that I am so fortunate? How can it be that my family has been so blessed in the treasures worth more than mountains of gold?

So last night I held my newborn granddaughter. I looked out the window of the hospital room, and I saw the hospital next door when her aunt, my seventh baby, had lived her whole life. I imagined that I could look right into the room where she had lived and blessed us and then died. It was, in fact, possible.

I smiled. As I had arrived that evening, I was handed a parking pass marked "Children's Hospital." I remembered the hundreds of those I had collected during my daughter's life. I reached to turn off the radio before I parked; I stopped, stunned. I hadn't heard her song in at least a year. And there it was. Break Away. My baby Celeste's song was playing. She was watching over her niece, celebrating with us.

I held my newborn granddaughter in my arms.

Here name is Gianna. Gianna Celeste.