Twenty-eight years ago the flutters began to herald a new emergence into the world. My youngest daughter would be born around noon on Victoria Day, May 19. The next months of her life would be months of joy and fear as health concerns threatened, taking us in and out of the hospital, and leaving us vacillating between hope and despair as with love we did what we could to keep her with us.
Her older brother and sister, 5 and 3, felt the tension and concern in the home. Since our son had battled his own health problems at birth we shared that with him. We tried to word it in language for a five year old but the gist of it was this: He had had episodes of turning blue from struggling to breath and he had had the yellow hue of jaundice. Now he was a healthy young boy. He was okay so we would trust that she would be okay too.
We had a chance to find out his understanding when somewhere in those first few months a young girl was visiting our house. Our son was in the room talking to her as she listened to all his stories. His preschool sister played on the floor nearby.
“I was a rainbow baby,” I heard him say. “I was blue and yellow.” I choked back laughter at the innocent understanding of children.
Our little girl came running out of the room. “Mommy,” she asked, her eyes begging for the right answer, “Was I a rainbow baby too?”
Yes, I assured her. She was pink and yellow. Satisfied she went back to play.
The next months would be months when courage felt lacking and sometimes it was sheer perseverance that helped me revive my daughter one more time or sit with her in emergency or watch her fly off in the helicopter ambulance. Thankfully, there were people who surrounded our other children during the weeks when I was over 2 hours away with our youngest in the children’s hospital.
Today, we celebrated her 28th birthday. Surrounding her were family and friends, her husband and their two little ones. She is healthy and seems to have made a life that brings her joy. Yet she had the compassion to understand when I needed to leave the party early.
Tonight after the church service I attend, we prayed for one of my friends who will need strength and courage in the months ahead. On this day I remember the birth and first year of my child, I also lift my prayer for my friend and his family in the weeks and months ahead. I am thankful to have been invited to share as one of his community in the gathering around him.
In the laments within the book of Psalms there is a cry to God, a request, and the remembrance that allows us to trust and come to a place of believing praise will come. My mindful gift today is the life of my daughter, a reminder that there is hope as we celebrate the joy she is in our lives.