Waking up today, this Sunday, I know that I will be traveling back home from Alexandria, Virginia on the East Coast all the way to Bellingham, Washington on the West Coast. it will be long and hard, but every bit of this trip has been worth the effort. You see, I was introduced to my niece Allison's daughter Lexie, who is two months old, born June 18. My sister Norma Jean, Lexie's grandmother, and Pete, Lexie's grandfather, and I have all been together with Lexie for five days now. Totally different from my quiet and well-ordered life at home.
Lexie is an IVF baby, with a sperm donor father. Allison has a 25-page biography about this man, and when she is old enough Lexie will be given the opportunity to meet her biological father, if she chooses to. Allison paid extra for this feature because she felt it would have been hard to explain to Lexie later why she didn't give her that option. She will know about her heritage, all of it, from the time she's old enough to care.
Allison is now a Lt. Colonel in the Army, with a career in operations research. She is very good at her job, and for the past few months has been home on maternity leave. She goes back to work after Labor Day, but since Lexie was born Allison has devoted every moment of her life to nurturing her newborn. Allison is good at everything she does, and Lexie is no exception. I am totally and completely in love with this beautiful child.
This whole experience has also awakened feelings in me about the passage of time. I thought I had dealt with all of that during the period when I read Biocentrism and wrote about it here. I look at my sister, two years younger than me, and as I see her through my mental lens, she still looks the same to my eyes, but now she has gray in her hair (not as much as me). Pete is suffering from COPD (chronic pulmonary obstructive disease) from decades of smoking. He still sneaks a puff now and then, and gets grief from both Allison and Norma Jean when he walks back in from the back yard. I know it's because they love him but I also know he's never been able to completely break the cycle of addiction to nicotine, even though he's dying from the disease.
I don't know if I'll ever see Pete again, and I think that each time I see him, so my heart strings are pretty darn sore from these five days. He's much worse now and fights for each breath. Very limited in what he can do now, he is still totally engaged in life through the wonders of the Internet. I helped him fix up a blog and I hope, really hope, that he uses it to leave Lexie some of his writing, his thoughts, because he's a really good writer and Lexie will never know him any other way; he won't be around.
This made me realize that I won't either, and I don't suffer from COPD. I'm almost 68 now, and by the time she will be an adult, the chances of my being around are slim. I'm just not sure I'm interested in living to 90. Having mobility and a decent mental capacity are my whole life. I don't know very many sharp and energetic 90-year-olds. Or any, actually.
The interaction between the parents and Allison fills me with awe. It never changes, really, as most family dynamics don't, but there is an undercurrent of cherished shared time together and the realization that there won't be many more like this. And then there is Lexie. Everyone centers their love for each other around this new life, this new hope for the future. Me too.
Because of today's electronic wonders, and because Lexie already has videos and lots of pictures available on Allison's Facebook page, I will watch her development from afar and will try hard to keep myself from becoming that doting great-aunt who shows all her friends the new baby in her life. But then again, most of those friends and family are also on Facebook. It's a new era of virtual connectivity, so in many ways now that I have held her, smelled her precious babyness and fallen in love with her, I will hold her in my heart forever. I will cry over her trials, and I will celebrate her accomplishments.
There will never be this moment again, but I have captured it here and I am sharing it with you, and I too can come back and visit as I pore over the pictures and exclaim as she grows from an infant to a toddler. I wish I could keep her safe from all that she will endure in life, but it's a lament that everyone who has ever loved a child understands. Now that my heart is full to bursting, I'd better stop here.