A few hours later he called again. They were at the hospital and “it could be any time now,” he said excitedly. By 6:30 that evening, Shayna Jane Thomas made her debut to the world.
Unfortunately we didn’t get there in time. I had so wanted to be there like I was for Kayla’s birth three and a half years ago. Shayna was already nearly a day old by the time we got to see her.
Kayla and her other grandma Kathy were in the waiting area outside the hospital room when Rick and I turned the corner. Kayla’s eyes lit up when she saw us. “Grandma, we have a baby!”
She couldn’t wait to lead me into the room where my daughter-in-law was sitting up in bed looking tired but ecstatic, holding her swaddled infant. I kissed Holly’s forehead and the words that came out of my mouth were, “Thank you.” Then my son picked up his new daughter and handed her to me.
As I held Shayna for the first time, my son snapped a photo and captured the moment better than I can describe it in words. In the picture I am beaming while Rick looks over my shoulder. His eyes are filled with awe. His expression shows he is moved by this miracle.
Under the window in the hospital room there’s a sort of sofa bench. It’s a place for guests to sit and it’s a bed for daddy to spend the night. Kayla and I sat down and my son laid Shayna on a pillow between us. Kayla looked lovingly at her new sister and in a quiet but matter-of-fact voice announced, “Baby, this is Grandma. Do you see her, baby? Look at her. Look at her. It’s our Grandma.”
In that room with Rick, my children and grandchildren, at that instant, I never felt more loved.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the sisters. I imagined the two of them at 5 and 8, at 12 and 15, at 18 and 21 years old. I saw them in caps and gowns. I envisioned there would come a day when one would be dressed in white and the other would be her maid of honor. And in the years ahead, growing up together, there would be secrets shared, giggles and conspiracies, fights that hopefully won’t last long and a bond they will share forever.
A few days later, back home, I took a very long walk on a foggy afternoon. As I meandered down Pebble Beach Drive this column wrote itself in my head. By the time I got to 5th Street, tears were running down my face.
I thought about what was revealed in that photo of Rick and me holding Shayna. We experienced a real high of pure joy and at the same time a painful reality. We began as infants. We all start out the same way, as sisters, brothers, small children. And then we age into our roles as adolescents, adults, maybe parents and grandparents for as long as time will have us.
We start young and, if we’re lucky, we grow old and get to watch the cycle repeat itself over and over. Rick and I, we are among the lucky ones.