Braden texted me yesterday afternoon to remind me that today was his fourteenth birthday. I smiled at his words and texted back. “Hi! You still have about nineteen and a half hours. I know because I was waiting in the hall with Granddaddy Crolley.”
He texted back with pictures from the middle school yearbook and the words, “Yep, then I’ll be 14.” Braden added a few emoticons, and right there next to the bananas, my eyes began stinging as I recalled the afternoon of his birth. I marveled at how a tiny newborn could have grown into such a handsome fellow exchanging texts with one of his grandmothers fourteen years later.
I wrote about Braden’s birth in a story entitled “Older Brother,” and although I can’t find the original manuscript, I’m copying some of it from the 2011 The Petigru Review.
My sweet daughter, a tough little cookie, had delivered a perfectly formed, three pound baby boy on a December night a year and a half before Braden was born. The baby, Spencer Paul, was stillborn, the word itself an oxymoron. He was still, unmoving and without breath or cry, and yet he was born.
Here’s part of the story from TPR.
“….we stood outside the door, me with my chin trembling and trying not to weep. Her father, on the surface, appeared calm, but I knew he too was troubled.
“A woman, probably in her 30s with brown hair and dark glasses, looked at us with concern. She walked over, hugged me, and said some reassuring words. I later learned she was a doctor. There’s a lot to be said for the kindness of strangers and eight years later, I still think of her compassion.
“Carrie’s father and I made small talk while we waited, me tearful and him stoic, a rock. Memories of the events of a year and a half earlier flooded my mind, and I became increasingly agitated and anxious.
“What’s taking so long?” I wailed.
“It hasn’t really been that long,” he replied. “Things are fine. Nothing to worry about.” Whether he believed his own words, I don’t know.
“The minutes ticked by. All we could hear were muffled sounds coming from the other side of the closed door. Was everything okay? Why didn’t they tell us something? Was the baby here? Was Carrie all right?
‘That’s when I heard it—the cry of a newborn. At first weak, Braden’s cry became stronger and louder. It was the most wonderful sound I’d heard in years. Laughing and crying at the same time, I looked at his grandfather and read relief and joy in his eyes.
“After what seemed like an eternity instead of a mere twenty minutes, we were allowed to enter the room. There was my grandson cradled in the arms of my beautiful daughter, her face beaming. Weeping with happiness and relief, I hugged her tightly and then put my hand on Braden’s tiny chest as it went up and down, up and down, breathing in life.”
That was fourteen years ago, almost to the minute. Now Braden is an awesome teenager. Responsible, smart, handsome, and kind, he’s a delight to be around. He’s chosen to spend his birthday weekend with the South Carolina side of his family in Myrtle Beach this weekend. Why the beach? It’s one of his favorite places. 🙂
Again, your touching remembrances of hard times…forever part of the tapestry of your family’s legacy…
Happy Birthday to Braden!!!!