Once again, I find myself here in front of the computer at a loss for words. Or, perhaps more accurately, at a loss for the right words. Impressions, frustrations, pressing needs, future needs, worries, excitement, doubt … a cacophony of wordless head noise plays endlessly, half-formed contemplations and deliberations bouncing off left-behind sentence parts and disjointed wordings.
No doubt a large part of this is due to the past week of glorious sleepless nights in which the lack of sleep has been due to the presence of two new lives in our household, in our bedroom, in our bed. As my post-pregnancy (what a wondrous prefix “post” is!) hormones battle to regulate themselves, my dazed brain tries to wrap itself around the fact that there are eight children who call (or will call) me “Mama” (or, honestly, seven children who will call me that and one who will call me only “Mommy,” but I love that about Jonathan). And there is one man who calls me “Beloved,” and figuring out how to best be loved and love in this ever-changing-yet-ever-the-same role keeps my thoughts churning even as I am comforted by his faithful, steady love when I am so unsteady.
And we can’t forget the snow. After preparing our children so carefully for the fact that “Virginia doesn’t get snow,” we have spent the last two months cursing the elusive tub of winter essentials (boots, hats, gloves) that sits somewhere at the bottom of upended boxes in our storage shed out back. There is a definite stir-craziness that surpasses the usual in this house. The house seems smaller and the children more restless. Oh, for some sunshine! For some thawing! For a chance to dig out the truck and take the probably 20 frozen trash bags off the back porch! For a third bench in the van!
And part of my internal gyrating is due to the death of my grandmother, my father’s mother. A sudden death this was not, as she was in a near-death state for many months. And yet doesn’t the moment of death always jar, always startle? And so while I am comforted that she rests in heaven, in the very near presence of her Lord and all the saints who have gone before her (including one of her daughters), the sadness of this side of heaven’s loss whirls in with the confusion of who I’ve diapered last and which one is nursing and “go ask Papa – for some reason I can’t remember what a flow chart is.”
There are specific things I want to remember about my grandmother so that I can pass her story – their history – on to my children. The way she meticulously wrapped her hair dryer cords in empty toilet paper rolls in the bathroom cabinet. The hundreds (thousands?) of meat trays she washed and dried and stored in her basement to be ready at a moment’s notice for any local school’s call for craft supplies. The way she gave hand-sewn nightgowns to my sister and me every Christmas for years. Her piano-playing. Her pickles. Her pies. Her carefully filed fingernails, short enough to can rhubarb but shapely enough to be feminine. The way she always held back tears and hugged us goodbye when we left her house at Thanksgiving. Her dedication to the faithful marriage she and my grandfather shared for 61 years. Her dedication to prayer. Her dedication to good grammar.
Not that she was perfect. She wasn’t, and I’m not. We disagreed on many things (my use of the word “darn” outside of socks, for one, and certain tenets of theology, for another). But we are held steady by the same God, the same “Beloved” Who loves us perfectly and holds us in the palm of His hand even when we are unlovely (and apart from Christ, when are we not?) and provides the sure foundation of our faith.
But enough. Enough of the words and lack of words and the thoughts that won’t sort themselves properly.
And on to the pictures.
Gideon Vos Allison
7 lbs., 4 oz.
Born February 2, 2010 at 6:35 PM.
When the kids asked what his nickname was, Ethan replied, "He doesn't have one. I didn't have one. Well, my uncle Steve called me E-bop or Eepers." Which, of course, leaves us with G-bop or G-eepers. You guessed it. We have a Jeepers.
Salem "Sally" Sadie Allison
9 lbs., 7 oz.
Born February 2, 2010 at 6:59 PM.
The entire labor – from its start with water breaking in the van after we picked the kids up from my parents (oops, let’s take them back) until its end with Salem finally screaming – was 2 hours and 12 minutes. It was intense, it was annoying (in the operating room with a billion doctors, nurses just in case), and it was everything for which I had prayed – VBAC, natural, and quick, with two healthy babies.
Our family story continues.
(Salem and Eden)
(Salem, Eden, and Jonathan)
(Salem and Miriam)
(Salem and Abraham)
(Benjamin and Gideon)
(Lily and Salem -- the Polka-dot Princesses -- we didn't realize this until I was taking this picture)
(Gideon at 1 week)
(Salem at 1 week)