This morning at church, Kyle, Josh, and I arrived on time. We sat adjacent to the snack table–for convenience. During the intermission, I was enjoying an ice-cold cup of water and a cookie when I saw out of the corner of my eye a very special, unique gathering.
Pregnant women. Their round bellies sticking out about two and a half feet, standing in a circle with their feet about hip-width apart. Their maternity shirts always reminded me of tents and I always smile at the the thought of their maternity jeans with the cotton fronts–to simulate normal jeans. All their hands pressed against their sides, as if to hold themselves up. They smile because their happy–happy to be pregnant, to be a mom (soon), to produce life, to share something with their husbands. I watched in wonder… Like a special club I never desired to join, but only to admire from afar. They all have their special numbers and names and secrets.
“Just one more month now!”
“Oh, Barbara! How exciting! Have you and Frank picked out a name yet?”
“Oh no… We’ve decided to wait. We don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl.”
“Oh! I could never do that! Sandy, could you ever do that?”
“Go without knowing if the baby’s a boy or girl?”
“Oh no! Never! I’m glad I know! Ever since we found out, Jeff and I’ll talk to Chloe so she gets used the sound of our voices.”
“To each her own, I suppose!”
“You know I’ve grown four inches in girth in just the last week?!”
At this point, I expected Betty Santiago to get a high-five, but I was wrong.
“I know! Can you believe it?! I tell ya, this baby’s gonna be a big one!”
I watched and listened quietly and started imagining each of these women about two or three months from now. Cradling their chubby creations against them, rubbing their backs and humming softly into their tiny ears. Occasionally, the new mom will look lovingly at her husband, remembering the entire event. The moment the contractions started. The second they arrived to the hospital. The video camera not working at first and the soon-to-be Grandpa trying to fix it. The crying sister-in-law. The drunk Uncle Steve and his stumbling into the wrong doctor’s office, only to witness the miracle belonging to someone who wasn’t his sister. A day that would never be forgotten. A life that would always be treasured.
The last time I held a baby, a newborn, the kind that are still discovering what the function of their fingers is… I can’t remember the last time I held one of them. But I really wish I could have today. To remember how fragile I once was and how my own parents cradled me in their arms at one time. If I could hold a baby now, I wouldn’t be able to stop staring into his or her face. I’d be wondering who they were going to be and if I would ever pass them along the street someday. And if we did pass each other, whether or not I would know that at one time, I held that person in my arms…