Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kate and Crew 31: Celebrating Life

31. Celebrating Life (June, 2014)
          One of the delights of Kate's summer was that she got to spend lots of time with her dear college friend, Emma. She and her husband were now living in Denver, and they were also expecting a girl--and Emma was due a mere 4 weeks before Kate! When they got together, they did a little bit of hiking, a little bit of walking, and a whole lot of talking about everything ranging from college memories and theology to baby development and piano students. Now that they were back from the mountains, Kate only had a couple days to finish the baby blanket she was making for Emma's baby shower. She felt a compulsion about finishing it before they left--it was one more project to cross of her list! She had plenty of time to work on it, but she ran out of yarn in Wyoming was sheer foolish procrastination, and now she felt stressed about it. And the stress was compounded by the fact that she had another blanket to make for a shower the following Saturday, back in Virginia. 'Tis the season...Kate thought, considering all the expectant couples she knew.
          The shower was Saturday morning, the day before Kate and Mister were starting on the trek home. Kate was thrilled to be able to go and encourage her friend. But baby showers had the same emotional effect of graduation parties and weddings. It was the large crowd focused on one person, who wants to visit individually with everyone but sometimes doesn't get in more than a "thanks so much for coming." They weren't too awkward, but Kate generally left with feelings of vague dissatisfaction, wishing she had made more of the time by speaking encouraging and meaningful words....while at the same time wondering if she had spoken too much and sounded too solemn on such a joyous occasion. Kate tried to convince herself that it was meaningful just to go and she was glad she was able to. So for the next couple days, she knitted constantly and mentally prepared herself for too many new faces and not enough time with Emma.
          When Kate pulled into the drive, she had a stunning wave of memories. Emma was living with this family when she had gotten married over five years before, and Kate had stayed here with her for the week beforehand. What a splendid time they had! They did everything together--packing, organizing, running last-minute errands, and belting favorite while driving with the windows down.
         Kate walked in the house and said hello. She remembered only a few faces from the wedding, but she instantly recognized the house. Outside, she spied the trampoline where she had spent long, sweet phone conversations with Mister. (By that time, they were very serious even though they had only dated for a couple months. And there he was, spending spring break in Florida and missing out on her first meeting with his family! After Emma's wedding, Kate planned to join the Millers on their drive to St. Louis, and then hitch another ride back to Hillsdale.) Inside the house, she remembered eating breakfast at the kitchen counter...the letter blocks on the hutch...reading her Bible on the couch...the scented candles in the bathroom...the room where she stayed...the table where Emma's lavish bridal shower brunch had been hosted. Kate nodded her head and smiled. Oh yes, she remembered, These people do know how to do parties! The food, decorations, games...they take the standards and put on the ritz!
          And so it was. Kate followed Emma outside to a gorgeous, sumptuous brunch buffet and felt like she had just walked onto a movie set. The sun was shining, the clouds were perfect, the tablecloths were white, the grass was green, and Emma fit the picture perfectly, looking model-like with her curled blonde hair, stunning smile, and bright pink maternity dress. Kate sighed. She felt frumpy and enormous. She was due a month later than Emma, but felt obviously bigger than the guest of honor. It doesn't matter, She scolded herself. Nobody cares about how big I am. I'm here to celebrate Emma's little girl. Kate watched
Emma, trying to forget about herself for a moment and concentrate on Emma's motherhood. She quickly got into the mood, thinking, She'll be such a fun, creative mother! Kate remembered Emma enthusiastically exclaiming over a wide variety of new discoveries--from plants and flowers to books on ancient history! Kate thought of her own current experience with Teddy, With a baby, she'll get to discover things all over again. And of course, an extra month feels SO LONG right now, but our girls will be so close in age! I hope they'll be great friends... 
          Kate held her friends' children close to her heart, hoping they would be good comrades for her own kids. But she couldn't help but feel that this would be unlikely unless Mister was able to find a job relatively close by, which wasn't necessarily unlikely, just unknown. She hardly knew what to expect from this coming school year--a new baby, a new degree (for Mister), a new job, a new home. All exciting, life changing events; all at the same time! 
          The baby shower was fun in its own way. But Kate left (as she expected) feeling vaguely sad. She said goodbye to Emma with a big baby bump hug and hopes that she would return again soon. And the sadness was greatly mitigated by the confident knowledge that she and Emma had used their time well. We've had almost two months together! Kate reminded herself. We've had lots of special conversations and fun adventures.The last time we were at this house together, it was the night before her wedding. Now, over five years later, I get to celebrate her baby! And we have shared so much in between. Kate finally realized that she didn't need to say anything more meaningful than what she had already lived. This time didn't need to be, and couldn't have been, anything more than it was--a shared celebration of life.