One April evening in 2017 we reached for your Mama and Daddy’s hands and led them into the stillness of an empty sanctuary. At an altar we prayed for you; we prayed for you to come, prayed for God to create you.
The sanctuary walls bowed and bulged as we prayed, the longing filling up the hollowness—the hollowness of the yearning transformed into a hallowedness, a sacred place of waiting and preparation. Of learning to trust and believe and have faith even when every month indicators reminded your parents that you were not yet. The waiting continued. Longing and hope stretched to half a year, three quarters of a year. A year. We continued to pray. Continued to ask. Ever waiting.
But waiting, honest waiting is never passive. And the wait God instigates is never futile or fruitless. His wait is never a killing of time. No, with God it’s always a filling of time to bring about the fullness of time. At just the right time God sent your Mama and Daddy a son.
One night your mama and her sisters and their mama gathered to eat. We gathered because we needed each other—needed the familiarity and the deep-seeded love that is present in us, even when is obscured or invisible. The currents of that night we erratic—thrumming with something we could not name. We sat down with our tin trays of barbecue and fried pickles and the let’s-get-situated commenced. But I looked up at your Mama’s face and beheld something I had not seen in her before—not fully.
At the moment I could not discern it. I could not put a name on this countenance of her face. This night was a girl’s night, a partial surprise in the middle of a hard month of winter and events—when all is cold and barren and hibernating. I looked up and in walked your Daddy. He’s a big man, but you do not hear his footsteps; he walks easy.
My heart rate bumped up for his presence was an indication of something out of the ordinary. The men in our lives rarely interrupt the gathering of us. He sat down. The expectancy on our faces, palpable. Even now, I can remember time slowing; I did not count the seconds, but instead the moments as we stared at your Mama and Daddy.
Years ago we awaited the advent of Atlas, and I didn’t realize this glorious expansion would happen again and again—this advent of children into our lives. Awaited. Anticipated. Prayed-for-children.
So when the words, the announcement, danced out of your mama that you were coming—we sat and stared. And we started to cry, the cry of joy, of elation, of hope, of breath released.
The restaurant receded to a backdrop; we forgot those around us, unknown people privy to the event beginning in us. Later I wondered if they pondered the unfolding at our table.
Your father’s face—so full of pride and joy. He beamed his low steady light, arms already encompassing your mama already protecting.
I ugly-cried at that table, overwhelmed with this holy gratefulness. My arm lifted, lifted up into the air electric and permeated with something akin to fire. My hand splayed forth, a silent witness to the miracle of you, to the glory of God.
Jeremiah, your name means Jehovah is exalted. And that is exactly what we did when we learned of you.
Much later, one morning Gran and I joined your mama and daddy, and we gazed at a screen, and you appeared. Bigger than life. Your little face, pressed and hidden inside your mama’s frame, was achingly sweet and visibly distinct. We watched your heartbeat (and ours beat faster), all four chambers pumping. The whooshing of your waters grew loud in the room. Your fingers grasped and opened. And you swallowed and turned your head. The grayscale images on the screen held your grandmothers in awe. Her first, my fourth. And yet, we both fell in love, perhaps at the same moment. Suddenly Jeremiah was more than an idea or a stretch in your mama’s rounded belly. And we both wept (you’ll quickly learn we cry a lot).
And again my arm shot into the air—a witness to the reality of Psalm 139. God knit you together in your mama’s womb. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. At that moment I understood that you were called before you were born. Called as a witness that prayers and hopes are answered.
In some way. In some time. In some how.
Your very existence, the coming of you, Jeremiah, increased your Noni’s faith. In you there is this quiet testimony that the God of the Universe does bend down to hear us; he hears the desires of our hearts. And he remembers.
Your arrival in all senses for everyone was labor. Your mama and daddy labored the hardest together, one flesh breathing and working for your emergence into this world. The grandmothers and aunts and uncles labored in the waiting room. We (especially me) labored to be patient, to exercise some self-control of being over-anxious. Each time the door opened every head pivoted to see who emerged. (This seemed like Deja-vu for some of us did the same when your cousins arrived). In the first fifteen hours, we did not recognize the people who came through the door; they were not of our tribe, our village. And we had to sit back down in our minds, return to a place of waiting. I must confess I was impatient, concern for your mama weighed heavy in me. It’s an interesting address to live at as a mother and a grandmother.
But at last, your daddy came to us—his face a subdued version of Moses’. He lit from within, and everyone crowded him and hammered him with questions and hugs and tears. I know we overwhelmed him, but he handled it as he does most things with grace and ease and an infinite amount of patience. He held the same look as he did in the restaurant when they announced your coming, but now this look was greater, deeper, and it held even more awe.
He led the grandparents back to you. Walked us into the quiet space where your mama held you. And our world expanded. The borders of our hearts pushed back to encompass the enormity of you. These two families bonded before by marriage and friendship were now connected by blood—you.
The convergence of all that we are merged in you, Jeremiah. And when your mama handed you to me, I felt it. I felt the connective threads pull tightly, drawing us into something far greater than ourselves. I looked down into your tiny face—this merging of the grace of God—and saw for a split second the man you would become and how proud I would be.
For a stretched moment I saw the family tree put forth another shoot. Another witness. Another beautiful child to remind us that there is hope.
|Gran and Jeremiah|
|Noni and Jeremiah|