Today I held Grace for the first time. Grace is my granddaughter, born March 27 to my daughter, Allison and our son-in-law, Noah. Like all grandparents, I am amazed at this miracle.
Holding her, I thought about my mother who died eight weeks ago today at the age of 89. The night before she died we gathered around her bed, my wife and I and our children. We told her we loved her and she told us that she loved us. We reminisced about a few memories. Then, my son-in-law held his iPhone up to her ear and played a recording of Grace’s heart beat. It was strong and rapid, dancing with new life. My mother’s heart was failing and would beat its last beat by morning. Grace’s heartbeat was just beginning, pounding in my daughter’s womb, waiting to be born.
I also thought about my daughter. She was born the year I turned 40. Jackie, my wife, was 37. We had two sons ages thirteen and eight. We had not expected any more children. When we discovered Jackie was pregnant, we met with the doctor. He asked if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy, apparently due to our age, the increased risk of defects and the fact that this pregnancy was not planned. We sat dumbfounded by his question. We looked at each other for a moment and responded, “No.” This was not a pregnancy, this was our child. We wanted this child. We would do nothing to risk her full and complete health. We changed doctors. Eight months later, Allison was born, as perfect a daughter as a father could ever wish to hold. I rocked her to sleep every night and sang songs to her about Jesus until she finally told me she thought she was too old to be rocked any more. Those were treasured moments, moments when I celebrated God’s gift of our daughter. Moments when I oftened reflected on the doctor’s question.
Years later I started writing poetry and wrote a poem about the daughter God gave us. Here it is:
You came into my life unexpected,
unrequested, unplanned and unknown,
bursting the bands of my being,
redefining and rewriting
the schemata of my soul.
I thought my world was whole,
believed I knew my substance
needing none other than I knew,
contemplating and comprehending completeness.
You appeared to me,
a formless faded phantom on a screen,
echoes of flesh, a beating heart,
tiny fetal foot reflected in the womb
of your mother.
We wanted you, longed for you,
waited for you, prayed for you,
prepared for you:
a room, built with my own hands,
a yellow crib and mobile,
fluffy toys and dolls,
to greet you when you came ...
And you came,
revealing my arrogant ignorance,
that I could think my world complete,
that I could live if you were not,
that life could be without you,
that life could be again in your going.
You pose the question in my mind,
with your smile, your girlish giggle,
the stroking of your cat,
the tears upon your cheek,
the weight of your slumbering body
at rest in mine, curled up in the arms
of a big blue chair:
“What is there I know not that I have not
and could not live without?”
So, today, I held Grace, my daughter’s daughter, and reflected on the grace of God!