Happy 5th Birthday Layne
The day Layne was born was very special.
We had just returned from a family reunion in Colorado; in every way a joy to spend time with family, but also more acutely aware that one of my aunts was very sick with cancer. Another aunt was losing her lifelong battle with MS. In fact, my mom and another sister left to be by her side halfway through the family reunion. My dad and I, traveling together, had spent the night in the Atlanta airport, a mess because of bad weather and delayed flights. Worn out by lines, delays, cancellations, and phone calls, we collapsed on the floor to get a few hours of sleep. When we woke up, my dad received the news from my mom that my aunt had passed away. Then we received a text that my nine months pregnant sister-in-law Katie was in labor. Then the phone died.
Exhausted as two people can be after a long day of travel and a night on the airport floor, we finally got a plane back to Orlando, more excited than we’ve ever been for air conditioning, something to eat, and a shower. And to welcome a new baby.
We walked into a humid, damp, rotten-smelling house. The power had shut off in the middle of the week, and in the Florida summer heat, that means a fridge full of rotting food and air so damp you can almost see it. We called the electricians and they warned us that it looked like a problem with the system deep under the road. ‘May be a week,’ was the report. We dumped the food and scoured the fridge, blurry in our tiredness, worried about Mom and Katie and the coming baby.
By that night a miracle had happened, and the power was back on. We treated ourselves to showers and a few hours of sleep before driving the few hours to the hospital.
There, on the bed next to her mother, the tiny baby girl was sleeping. I took my headphones and softly played Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel, one earpiece in Katie’s ear, and one in the baby’s. Her first music.
And then my mom arrived, a sister who the day before had held my aunt in her final moments. My aunt had left the world just as Layne had entered it. Sorrow and joy. Mom sat in the room, hour after hour, gazing at this new life that was Layne.
Today Layne is a girl with a big heart and a quirky sense of humor. She loves routine, and she was one of the most literal toddlers I ever met. A few months ago she declared to her busy family (including two outgoing siblings), “I need my alone time,” and retreated to her bedroom and played Vivaldi as loud as she could stand it. I guess she still loves classical music. She also loves pull up socks, dress up, and Hello Kitty. She is a light in our family.
And this is for her:
Layne, you’re five today! I can’t wait to see your new short haircut. I am proud to have a niece like you, and so happy you’re in our family! You are so much fun, and you have a good heart. I can’t wait to come visit and have a sleepover and play dress up. We miss you very much, and we love you very much. See you on Skype!
Love, Aunt Erin
The baby photo of Layne was taken by her very talented mother. If you’re interested in a good photographer, you can find Katie at www.thelifeandartofkt.com.