21 years ago, 16 year old Betsy woke up because the phone was ringing. I can’t imagine how many
times it rang before I finally woke up enough to answer it. (Susan remembered that the radio was playing, the alarm that I was ignoring-"Linger" by The Cranberries). It was absolutely bewildering to hear my Mom’s voice. I remember saying “You’re not here?” and twisting around to look past the kitchen and peer into her bedroom. She told me she was at the hospital, with my baby sister, and finally, blinking, things began to make sense. I think I said something obvious like “But I didn’t know that!”
I remember the yellow light of the hospital room, and happy, tired, Mom. I remember red and wrinkled Abby, and being astonished that we got to see her so new. She hadn’t even had her first bath yet. I remember Susan being concerned that she didn’t look right, having never seen a new new newborn before.
I remember going to school, the first day of the new semester of my Junior Year, just a few minutes late for my first class, Anatomy and Physiology. I remember Mr. Schaefer was a little gruff with me, and, beaming, I gave the reason for being late. He was big on pop quizzes, and the quiz that day was Abby’s length and weight. I remember feeling a little guilty for the free extra credit, and kind of astonished that he seemed also excited about my new baby sister. That was my favorite class, and at that moment I still wanted to be a doctor. 6 weeks later, when Mom went back to work, and Abby was still so tiny, I changed my mind about that.
I remember rushing home from school to see her, and in my memory, the next 18 months before I went to K-State are full of Abby. Holding her on my lap while filing debate evidence, holding her on my lap while doing calculus homework, talking about her in Student Congress speeches. I remember holding her in the grass the summer before I left for college and feeling an ache inside at the thought of leaving her.
I remember noticing that Mom looked older in pictures before Abby was born than in later years. I
remember Abby hanging on her leg, literally being dragged around, happily! as Mom moved about the kitchen cooking dinner, like she could never get enough of her.
I have heard it said that the greatest gift you can give a teenager is a baby sibling. I can't agree enough. A few times I have encountered a Mama, having a baby after 40, with big kids at home, usually worried and saying something about it being crazy. I try to tell her that it will be the best thing in the world, the most wonderful gift, but I don’t know how to use words to express the magnitude.
Thanks Mom and Dad. Happy Birthday, sweet baby sister. I thank God for you every day.