“Home” today means staying in, even though it’s sunny outside. Home means grabbing what I can find to eat as I hold my feverish baby, a baby born a year ago tomorrow. For, I am home to this little one, as she curls on my chest trying to get comfortable amidst her runny nose and warm forehead. She wakes briefly to smile and point at her brother, emanating joy even in her sorrow.
A year ago, I waited and waited for her birth. I couldn’t really believe I was going to have a girl after three boys and it all felt new for the first time, though I’d already had three babies. Her entrance in the world was steady and true and came through the pain of bearing down when I just didn’t want to do it anymore. But my beautiful Harriet Susan Joy came at the appointed time. And then was later whisked away to the NICU for breathing problems.
I felt like my joy was stolen. No baby cuddles in the middle of the night, except through beeps and wires. No blissful rooming-in as we watched the snow fall outside the window. I was in my room and she in hers and every three hours, I visited her, my breasts an offering and a letting go. I walked that pathway — from room, down halls, to elevator, to NICU, to elevator, to room — as a labyrinth, looking for illumination and meaning, yet just feeling separated from her and alone.
And so today, though there is much to be done, nothing is more important than now and nothing is more important than this. Today there are no NICU walls or wires to separate us. This ministry of presence, of just being here, and showing up. Whether you’re showing up for a spouse, a friend, a colleague or a sick child, I hope that you, too, will show up and be present and let the inconsequential fall away.
Because “home” is your people. Wherever you may find them.