Last month, my grandfather died. I was in my first trimester of my third pregnancy, and there was something so special about being able to share that news with all of my family members who'd come to gather for his death and funeral. It was a deeply emotional experience, and one I won't soon — if ever — forget. I'm sad my grandfather won't get to meet this great-grandchild — he was always very proud of his eight kids, 20 grandkids, and 25 great-grandkids; proudly displaying photos of all of us throughout his home alongside a running list on his fridge of his with his great-grandchildren's names and birthdates —but I did get the chance to share my surprise third pregnancy with him before he died during the final days of his life, telling him that this baby would be born very close to his 90 birthday.
I told him about this baby even though it was still very early, because he had entered hospice care. He knew the end was near, and his entire family gathered around him. My kids and I were lucky to live very close by and visited him a few times a week up until his death. His room was always full of rotating visitors, and it was awesome to be able to discuss how the future was going to unfold, even though my grandfather wouldn't be there for it.
The death of my grandfather brought us all together in a really special way, and I'll treasure the fact that we could be there for each other as we celebrated life and death together.
This baby is very much wanted, and of course, to me, this baby is very special. But it was so lovely to hear how special this baby would be to my large extended family. I told everyone I saw at his home, even though I normally would have waited. Everybody I told was extremely excited. I come from a baby-loving family, and for the last 18 years or so there's been at least one or two babies born every year. Sharing the news of this pregnancy with everyone, even during such a sad moment, was a reminder of how lucky we all are to have each other. I'm so grateful to my grandfather for raising such wonderful kids, and for having a family that is so close-knit and loving. As my cousins have gone on to have families of their own, we've seen each other a bit less. Holidays are spent with our own families more and more. But the death of my grandfather brought us all together in a really special way, and I'll treasure the fact that we could be there for each other as we celebrated life and death together.
His wake and his funeral were beautiful celebrations of his life and his family. When I'm pregnant, my emotions always bubble a little closer to the surface. And throughout all of the ceremonies, I felt particularly vulnerable. It didn't take much for me to cry, but it also didn't take much for me to laugh and to marvel at the hundreds of photos my family collected to remember my grandfather. If there's a time when crying and laughing and feeling things deeply is accepted, it's when you're celebrating a life while also mourning the loss of that life. Now I have the great pleasure (and honor) of sharing this world and our family with another little person.
I'm looking forward to the birth of my baby in a new way. I'm sad, still, that my beloved grandfather won't meet our third baby, but I've also realized that the life I'm growing inside of me is also a new beginning. This baby is going to hear stories about my grandfather, about what he meant to all of us, and that's how they'll learn all about this family we're all so lucky to have and be a part of.
When my my due dates were calculated and then recalculated, I found I was due possibly the same day my grandfather was born. Staring at the dates was especially meaningful for me. My grandfather didn't make it to his 90 birthday. But my baby may very likely celebrate their first birth date on that day.
My pregnancy this time around wasn't planned. In fact, the pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, and even though I don't normally chalk anything up as "meant to be" or "fate," it felt very fortuitous that I learned I was pregnant when my grandfather really started to fade away. And when my my due dates were calculated and then recalculated, I found I was due possibly the same day my grandfather was born. Staring at the dates was especially meaningful for me. My grandfather didn't make it to his 90 birthday. But my baby may very likely celebrate their first birth date on that day. If my grandfather had lived to see 90, we would've probably had a massive party for him. Instead we'll be celebrating a new life while remembering what we lost.
I love knowing that this family is going to continue. That we'll celebrate new life and new milestones. That we'll remember my grandfather every time I introduce this new baby to each family member.
It might sound cheesy, this sort of marveling at the circle of life, but it's been a great comfort to me as I mourn the loss of a man who always had a special relationship with each of his grandkids and great-grandkids. He always commented on how laid-back and fun my son was. He always sang to my daughter in his deep bass voice. Whenever I visited him or called him, he said, "Hey, babe!" and no matter what, was always so happy to see or hear from me. His house always had bowls of M&Ms, which as a young child, was a huge reason I loved visiting him.
As the years went on, I went to hear his tales of singing in a barbershop quartet. Or I'd go to play on his piano, with his encouragement. It can be annoying when kids sit at a piano, exploring and banging away at the keys, but he always let us, telling us to "use our fingers," and to "listen to what we are playing." He fostered my love of music, which I've in turn begun sharing with my own kids. Something I'll undoubtedly share with my next baby.
I love knowing that this family is going to continue. That we'll celebrate new life and new milestones. That we'll remember my grandfather every time I introduce this new baby to each family member. I'm looking forward to this baby's birth, and hoping that maybe he or she will share a birthday with a man I loved and miss dearly. I'm glad that in some way, we'll still be celebrating on his birthday. Instead of celebrating with him, we'll be celebrating with my new baby. It's bittersweet to be sure, but I can't wait for this baby, who will surely have a special spot in my family's heart.