[This is an atypical post, a reflection I wrote yesterday afternoon …]
The realization came as an epiphany while I was trying to squeeze my pregnant bulk behind the steering wheel, and wondering if that would be the last time I would drive before my first baby was born. “Parenting,” I heard myself say, “is about letting go”. These were my last days of constant companionship, when my small child would always be with me. He would one day soon travel through the birth canal as his first of many trips away from me.
Back when her big brothers were very little, they asked me at an evening prayer time if they could ask God for a baby sister. I said yes. Shortly after that, we learned we were expecting! Her name means, “The Lord has heard our prayer”, and we named her largely because of this prayer.
I remember walking with both boys to school when I was pregnant with their sister. Holding hands together with them, one on each side and my baby bump growing larger day by day. It seemed manageable with two hands and two sons, and I wondered how the shape of our family would change when our children outnumbered my hands!
She came rather smoothly one January day. By this time we were fairly experienced parents. We knew how things worked: you go to the hospital pregnant and you come home with a baby boy! When our daughter was delivered and the doctor invited my husband to declare whether the baby was a boy or girl, there were several moments of stunned silence … a girl? A girl! Joy and laughter!
Our girl who learned to walk and talk, cheered on by adoring brothers. We read stories to her and sang songs for her and always there were plenty of loving hands for holding!
In September of Grade One, I walked her to her new school, feeling the smallness of her beautiful hand in mine, cherishing these moments with my girl, wanting always to remember the feeling of this little hand in mine. When they get older they don’t always hold your hand … but for now I relished those walks to and from school with that sweet, soft hand in mine.
One afternoon during that First Week of School, I picked her up as usual, and as we set off together her precious hand slipped into mine. I was shocked at the unfamiliar feeling: what had happened to my child’s hands? They had suddenly changed! She had discovered the monkey bars and spent every moment of recess swinging on them, quickly toughening up those beautiful hands. Change can be good!
She still loves to swing and climb. I love the strength of her arms and shoulders, her courage and fierce determination. Her love is fierce and sweet and strong.
She began to notice and love a person she sees every week at church. Someone who does not talk with words but whose mouth is filled with laughter. Joy spills out all around him where his attendants carefully park his wheelchair. He is well-loved and appreciated, and Eliana has noticed this. Love for this man grew in her heart, and when we learned that he was suddenly very sick and would probably die soon, we were sad and prayed for peace and healing for him, then comfort for his family and friends and community. When we learned his funeral was Friday, she asked if she could go. We said yes. Thursday evening, the minister called, wondering if Eliana would sing at the funeral. She said yes.
This afternoon, I sat listening to my little girl sing, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”. I saw her sing with poise and power. I watched her respond with humility and grace to hugs and words of thanks from Brian’s family and friends. I caught a glimpse, an epiphany, a powerful realization of what I did know but suddenly saw anew. The Lord has been holding her hand since long before I did, and will keep holding her, helping her, cheering her on, and growing her.