This article was originally published with Convivium.
Four years ago, I bought a set of pictures. Pictures of little woodland creatures in their adventures, tumbling down waterfalls and into cool lakes. Pictures that waited for the bedroom of a little one. Pictures that waited in a chest. In a chest for four years. But they’re not in a chest anymore.
They’re not in a chest anymore because a miracle that unfolded in my body now rests in my arms, and those pictures adorn walls that surround the newness of life. Time seems to stand still and fly all at once, and I’m left remembering the wait, looking forward to the firsts, and standing in the holiness of the now.
Blink and you’ll miss it, blink and you’ll miss it, so I whisper to myself, don’t blink.
Three years ago, and a trip to Disneyland, found picture books in my suitcase. Books that made their way into a chest. In a chest for three years. But they’re not in a chest anymore.
My days have changed. They are filled with caring for others and making a home. With dishes and diapers and the gift-of-God work of a child. My nights have changed. Interrupted and unpredictable, they are filled with the intimacy of nurturing the needs of this tiny person – holding her close and rocking her, as I wait for the quietness of sleep to fill our home.
And in those quiet moments, her little eyes drifting open and closed as her fingers flutter across my bare chest, I catch my breath, rocking her slowly and I whisper to myself, don’t blink.
Two years ago, I found the white and pink toddler sized tea set my great-grandmother gave me, a snowy Christmas twenty-some years ago. I packed them carefully in a green and white box with my Peter Rabbit plate and bowl and placed them gently in the bottom of my chest. In a chest for two years. But they’re not in a chest anymore.
I close my eyes and memorize. Her little legs curled around the softness of her former home. Her body rising and falling as her breath matches mine, as her heartbeat slows in quiet peace. Her weight on my chest, her breath on my skin, her fingers drifting in sleep and I whisper to myself, don’t blink.
And I am convinced that this thing I feel with those wide eyes staring back at me, is the closest we feel to agape love this side of heaven. If agape is the perfect, unconditional love of God our Father, then the love for our child must be the closest thing to a mirror of His. The holy love that flows, staring into the eyes of our child. Watching the rise and fall of her chest as she sleeps, and I whisper to myself, don’t blink.
One year ago, and a long, long drive, found me at the Laura Ingalls museum in Wisconsin. A childhood dream come true, I chose a book for my own yet-to-be child. A book of adventures and imagination and I put it in my chest. For one year it waited in a chest. But it’s not in a chest anymore.
Years of waiting and praying turned to months of waiting and preparing turned to days of waiting and working, until with the sheer force and determination that characterizes my nature, I pushed and pushed, felt release, and heard those beautiful words: It’s a girl.
But then she didn’t breathe and I started to bleed, and my husband and I stared at each other in powerless fear. My eyes on her, his eyes back and forth – wife, daughter, bleeding, breathing, waiting, praying.
Then came the sound that shattered our hearts into a thousand pieces of relief, and someone smiled at me and said: “She’s okay.”
A tiny little babe laid across my chest, hollering with all the strength her little lungs could muster and we broke and we cried and we clung – to her, to each other, to the grace of our all-sovereign God. And today as those little lungs holler and wail, I pull her close in the crook of my arm, kiss her soft little cheeks and I whisper to myself, don’t blink.
And I know I should sleep but I hold her a little longer. Reach down and kiss her sweet baby-cheeks, stroke her head a little longer. For soon she’ll be crawling, then walking, then running, soaring off to the plans God has laid for her, so I whisper to myself, don’t blink.