Never and Always

My family recently celebrated my oldest and youngest brother’s birthdays. One’s is the 10th and the other’s is the 11th of June so we always gather and jam both parties into one big one.

While I sat, shoving my face full of kosher babka and wet pieces of cantaloupe, I noticed how much had changed since last year at this time.

Sweet Clare is crawling so well now when last year she was still in my belly.

Andrew and I had welcomed our baby girl into the world. She was not only present with us at the party but crawling around and stealing toys from her older cousins. I remember thinking last year, 6 months pregnant, that she would never arrive and now it seems as though she has always been here.

Joey and Jack, my nephews, had become kids and were no longer toddlers. They spoke decisively and clearly. We made jokes and laughed. Jack ate all his vegetables and Joey thanked me for, “Making him that delicious chocolate”. In my head I will always picture them as little infants, barely able to hold their heads upright. I never thought they would grow up.

Eric, my oldest brother, had become a father. As his little boy slept in the far room, long and lanky but all wrapped up in a dark blue blanket, I realized that my brother would never be a boy again. Though he has always been the first to do things he was the third to have a child. He is just now learning things that feel natural to me.

Last year my parents were traveling. How we missed them.

Andrew sat comfortably with my family. He has always talked energetically and kindly with each of my family members but it has not been easy. I never thought I could be so happy as I am with him. I found myself staring in awe at him. He caught me and smiled with and uncanny understanding of me.

Care and I sat and nursed our babies together in their nursery. I remembered how confusing it was to nurse a newborn. I never knew if Clare had enough to eat. I was always letting down at the wrong time. Sometimes I felt alienated from everyone as I again nursed Clare in another room, by myself. Now I was talking easily with Care as we fed and provided for our little ones together. I always forget how nice it is to have company. Care and I have never been good at cooking but our babies sure like the taste of that milk.

At one point I couldn’t locate Clare and glanced around to find her clutching my brother Karl’s shirt. He has always been so good with kids. It’s like every kid likes him … no matter what. Hands down. He has never met a kid he couldn’t bring out of their shell. His gifts go unrecognized for long stretches…to long. I remembered that last year he had just returned home from a 2 year position at a camp for troubled youths. How we missed him. I hope he stays here – always.

Joe and Andrea, who always bring a huge amount of food, only brought a few things. We had all brought whatever we could this time. They smiled their bright smiles and loved  everyone in the beautiful way that is theirs – without judgement, never leaving anyone out and finding ways to serve in whatever way they could.

Then I found this post and was moved. I hope I always remember and never forget what a beautiful blessing they have all been to me.

On the flip side: Our neighbors mowed their lawn. I thought, “Oh that’s nice.” Then I realized they are having a party tonight. Nothing like a party to get you to do something you hardly ever do.

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