In a birthing room four states away, my sister-in-law and brother are trying to sleep in the last few hours before they bring a brand new baby boy into the world. They are anxious, they are excited. They are exhausted.
When my brother called to tell me that his wife Sharon had been sent over to labor and delivery and the Valentine's Day baby was healthy and in position and would be arriving several weeks early, I not only heard frantic disbelief in his voice, I recognized it.
I gave him the best advice I could think of in my own moment of surprise and delight -- to pack snacks and bottles of water and to stop worrying that he left his computer at work and just focus on Sharon and on resting. And then the big thought nearly knocked me over.
"In a few hours, you will be a daddy!" I squealed.
"I am," he tried to sound calm but I heard a big sigh that followed the words.
But there was more.
"Oh my God," I squealed again. "In a few hours, I am going to be a AUNT!"
"You are," he said, this time followed by laughter.
We've talked several times since. Lil E and I called to check in on Sharon and make sure they ate dinner and say our I Love Yous. Once, he called to see how long it might take me to send them our old baby monitor and crib mobile (my advice on that one was that it would take more time and money than asking a friend to run over to Toys R Us and grab new models for them).
Now, while they try to get comfortable on what is never really a comfortable space, I am hundreds of miles away on my couch, typing and waiting and sending up prayers.
I remember the disdain at what I felt was such ridiculousness, reading women on pregnancy sites send each other baby dust and strange and twinkling avatars when someone reported in that they were going into labor. I still think all of that is silly. But I am sure the intent is just the same that I feel here tonight, offering up my hopes that Sharon's body and spirit will be strong, that my brother will be full of calm and care, and that this tiny child is healthy and comes quickly and safely.
And while I do, I have a pile of photos from those hours before Lil E was born.
This is the post-epidural yee-har.I am not sure what happened to the photo of me flipping off the camera (and my dad) post-Pitocin and pre-hallelujah relief.
Then I flipped through pictures of the early days.
This is his first day home, swimming in the smallest newborn outfit as we rushed off to the hospital.
Sucking his toes sweetly as the rising sun peeked into the nursery.
Seeing those inspired me to open up the photo album I carried in my laptop bag when I returned to work.
There are...well, there are no words to adequately envelope all that I felt in those hours while I waited for him or for the moments when I first looked into his eyes and my whole world rotated in the other direction. No words for the months and years that have followed.
Of course, I try here every week to get it all down and explain exactly how I feel. But none of it will ever do justice to the greatness of this love. Tomorrow, in the wee hours of the early day, my little brother will understand all of that.
I'm just hoping to catch a bit of it when I wake to The Call.
I'm going to be Aunt Jessie. My brother will be a father. And there will be one more person in our little family. What a day it has been. What a day tomorrow will be.