Next week is the first week of fall (herfst), and the summer has flown by. We’ve had retreats and trips, work searches and disappointments, and discovered that I am pregnant with our first child. At the beginning of June I was feeling pretty exhausted, like I was walking around with a constant case of mono. That meant hosting our friends a bit more challenging. And once the nausea hit, I was reduced to taking a nap every day and eating bananas and healthy bone broth made by my loving husband. I found out I was pregnant the day we celebrated my nephew’s second birthday and my in-law’s anniversary. That was a hard secret to keep, but Frans and I had a different glow at the party that day.
Beginning in April we’ve hosted ten people from four different countries for a collective 8 weeks…the latest visitors being my parents. They just flew out this morning and I’ve been very emotional today. I could blame it on the pregnancy, but it just isn’t true. I miss them. I miss my family and friends and having history with people. It makes building history here with our Dutch family and friends very important.
My parents are familiar and cozy, my cheerleaders and advocates. They are so good at sharing the loads of others. I noticed that when they were here. They want to love you, serve you, join in with what you’re doing. It was like Christmas every morning, waking up to the awareness that they were in the neighborhood. They have good hearts and listening ears, and I was able to process through a lot of this past year with them. Gordon and Sherry Hobbie are priceless. And those of you who have met them will agree. They also love my husband and my husband loves them. We celebrated their last night here with a Johnny Cash-inspired concert medley at Amsterdam’s Paradiso. My brother-in-law Karl joined us. (The night before, Karl and my sis-in-law Sylvia had made us a four-course dinner…this is after they were given two personal tours by our friends Piet and Linda at both the Anne Frank and Corrie ten Boom Houses, hosted by my in-laws at their home, and taken for a boat tour and served the best soup in the world by my brother and sister-in-law Johan and Liesbeth…needless to say, we were treated pretty special.) As we were swaying and tapping to the banjo and harmonica, I kept turning around to look at them. My husband by my side and my parents behind me.
Those are the moments where life feels complete. Almost. As I was enjoying the music, the support of my parents and the enjoyment of my husband, someone else was enjoying the music. I felt the second and third flutters of the tiny life inside, and I placed Frans’s hand on my belly. He felt a tiny movement too.
I was reminded of the sacredness of life, and of celebration, and of gratitude. And even though today is a tearful day, today is a day of gratitude.