21 years ago today, when I was 22 years old, the world stopped turning for a few hours. There was nothing and nobody outside of the labor and delivery room in the basement of the Margot Perot building of the Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. I had tried to eat the huge Thanksgiving feast that my mom had prepared the night before, but the contractions that had been plaguing me off and on for a week had organized themselves into a storm the strength of which I had never known. The wind of that storm overpowered the wind of my will and I could no longer function normally, nor be around people, let alone eat.
So I went home.
When we arrived at the hospital the next morning around 5am, the world was dark. The red and yellow lights glowed softly in the frosty November air of the parking garage. For all I know, the world stayed that color of darkness, with softly glowing lights, while my 22-year old husband checked us in and we were led through the fluorescent-lit, sterile hallways with the green doors and the quietly echoing beeps of electronic monitors. And we went through one of those green doors into a dimly-lit room with soft, glowing lights and I sat in the rocking chair until I could no longer sit and I breathed until I could no longer breathe and I writhed and I waited and I pulled on reserves I didn’t know I had until heard my daughter cry. My world stood still through all of that before everything changed forever. It stood still and it waited while it allowed me the freedom to move through that storm until I came out the other side.
And I held her in my arms.
And we fell hopelessly in love.
And just like that, the world began to turn again.
Today, that world has turned for 21 years. Today, I am a half a country away from that little girl and a half a lifetime away from being 22 years old. It is the first time in an world of times that I have not celebrated this day with her. And while that doesn’t stop the world from turning completely, it definitely slows it down a little. And I am allowing myself the freedom to slow down with it. And to remember. And to come out the other side.
Tonight I will go into a dark and frosty November evening with my family and my loved ones. We will sit in the darkness of this land called California, beneath the eucalyptus trees and we will watch the soft red and yellow lights of the fire illuminate the night as it warms our world. Our world that continues to turn, in this, our new home.
And my baby girl that I once held in my arms will celebrate with all the love that her world has given her in her new family of her own. Happy birthday, baby girl. Thank you for turning my world upside-down. I am glad it is still turning with more love than it knows what to do with on this Thanksgiving Eve. My hope is that the love spatters as it turns and that a little bit of it lands everywhere.
“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide Callie wherever she may be, keeping her unspotted from the world. Strengthen her when she stands; comfort her when discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she fall; and in her heart may thy peace which passes understanding abide all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”