This is my favorite
picture of my niece,
Claire. I'm sure it's
because her blue eyes
match my husband's.
It's an old picture, though. (Click on Rare Rocks for recent ones!) Claire is six today.
Six years ago she and her twin were born premature. Claire's sister Ellery went to heaven after only nine hours on earth. But Claire kept fighting. We all hung around her bassinet in the NICU for days and days and days.
There was always beautiful music playing in her room, and it was peaceful and warm. I know it was the hardest time in Felicity's life, but I look back on Claire's little NICU room almost like a chapel where we escaped the crazy, misplaced priorities and silly stresses of regular life and could center instead on the big, important things like love and God and healing.
During this time I discovered this book, "Bear Snores On" by Karma Wilson. I love this book and the sequels that have followed it. The poetry is rhythmic and fun to read. It's the first time I realized that good children's poetry will often have a chorus - not just verse after verse.
In the book, the bear is hibernating and smaller animals enter his lair, start a fire, pop popcorn, make tea - they even dance. Eventually he wakes up and feels so sad that they had a party without him. The party continues after that until the friends can't stay awake any longer. After that, "the bear can't sleep, but his friends snore on."
I knew that would be Claire one day. While she slept, every bit of her energy used up in simply trying to finish the growth and development she should have been able to complete in the womb, we stood around her bed in daily, nightly vigils of prayer, tears, and sometimes laughter. We streamed in and out of the giant doors that led to the NICU, taking turns by her side, in the rocking chair near her, replaying the soft, powerful music in her CD player, tucking stuffed animals into her space, touching her tiny fingers and toes, reading the blinking numbers on her monitors as though we'd all gone to nursing school ourselves. And I knew that one day, she'd wake up. Just like the bear. And all that will power we'd been praying for would turn into a vivacious, happy little girl with lots to do. And I felt that at least for a while, the rest of us would probably need to sleep.
So happy birthday, Claire. I'm glad things have evened out. We've recuperated from our vigil. You continue to move forward from it with every single milestone. And we're all finally at the same party.
I love you Claire-Bear.