anne patterson's 'graced with light' installation

i sing of northern california, where blanket coats lie dreaming in under-bed storage and the locals apologize for 60-degree evenings! i was inconsolable when what many called the prettiest snowstorm of the season hit new york city just as i made my first trip across the fog-swaddled new bay bridge (predictably, i prefer the clunky old bay bridge - this latest tech boom can suck it). nearly inconsolable, really, as it's hard to fixate on the weather when one's little sister is about to bring one's niece into the world. it's terrible to have to concede that a little sister has had sex, but it's wonderful to help throw a shower for her and her baby.

i sing of adolescence that echoes down through the decades! i turned into a snarling teenager on friday after my mother and i blew our last chance to gather shower supplies at the san francisco flower mart and i had to scavenge for arrangement components in the mylar wasteland that is sacramento-area grocery stores on valentine's day (when whole foods said they'd have "plenty of flowers," they meant they'd have "plenty of pre-arranged roses"). i knew even as i sniped that i was being cruel, but i couldn't hide how bitter i was that she didn't know what i needed. a few days later we wept in each other's arms on the curb at the airport, and i asked her to forgive me for moving so far away. it's been a week of strange demonstrations.

i sing of things we can't know. my sister's baby is tiny, and though her doctors' tests haven't revealed anything sinister, they can't reassure us that the little one will be alright in there until her due date next month; if today's sonogram indicates that she's slipped into the fifth percentile for weight, they will take her out this weekend. little one, you don't have to see the blooms i brought for your mother. i want them long dead by the time you come to us.

we climbed the hill to grace cathedral on thursday afternoon and walked beneath anne patterson's 'graced with light,' an installation of nearly 20 miles of ribbon that "carry our prayers, dreams and wishes skyward, and, in turn, grace streams down the ribbons to us." i watched rainbows creep across the indoor labyrinth and wondered what it would mean if i lit a candle in the chapel. i decided to fill my sister's house with flowers.


LPC said...

Ah I am so sorry to have missed you. But mostly I'm going to cross my fingers for your sister and niecest, and hope to see you in New York this spring when you will show me photos of the new cuteness.

Rachel said...

I totally misunderstood your tweet and thought you were saying your *sister* was tiny and assumed you were maybe referring to the childbirth portion and the hip size vs. head issue, which I always find worrisome. But this is much more stressful! I'll be sending good thoughts northward for the little one.

(And, just in case she does decide to come early, D's little bro was a measly 2 lbs 2 oz at birth and the doctors kept hedging their bets and he is totally fine. The NICU can work miracles now, although I certainly don't wish anyone there.)

lauren said...

bless you for saying that, rachel. THESE ARE THE ANECDOTES I NEED (and the sort it is very, very dangerous to google around about).

Celia said...

NO GOOGLING. perhaps we all have to learn the hard way, but seriously, NO GOOGLING.

something that i always think of now that i have cheech, and have gone through the horror of pregnancy and becoming a first-time parent:

when i was pregnant, i met a woman at a party who was a NICU nurse. being pregnant and not in my proper mind, i very bluntly stated that being a NICU nurse must be the opposite of fun. she laughed and claimed that it was actually a great job. "babies are so strong", she said, "they are fighters and they put adults to shame." that being said, a good half of the babies i know that were born around the same time as cheech spent some time in the NICU for one reason or another, and they're all great and healthy and normal. some of them are a little jerk-ish for my taste, but i only say that because i really only enjoy the company of my own kid.

lots and lots of luck to your sister in the next year. the first 12 months kicked my ass, but man, they sure were worth it. i really do adore that little monster that lives in our house.

Rachel said...

Oh god, the GOOGLING! You prob know I would actually never advise someone not to google, because it would be extremely hypocritical and also sometimes it's very useful. BUT - keep in mind that googling is only useful if you have a decision to make and you need to research it. If you are just looking for anecdotes, I'd steer clear. That shit gets crazy. I am positive that people with poor outcomes spend more time posting on the internet.

But yes, we were terrified about Ethan but he's now a strapping 15 year old boy, despite being teeny tiny and premature. Babies are truly amazing.

rachel staggs said...

beautifully written. sending good vibes to the west coast for your sister and niece. good vibes to the east for you. x

Anonymous said...

This... it made me cry.

Rest assured, however, that babies are resilient little characters. Miss Sally Gray was a whole 11 days late and a whopping nearly 9 lbs. and spent some time in the NICU. Those people who work in there are made out of stuff that is stronger than I can imagine. Babies, also, are made of the toughest stuff, and they will surprise you. Best wishes to y'all, my friend. And please know that this girl child is lucky to have you for an aunt.

theRachel said...

Just reading this now. Babies are so smart and strong and resilient. Thinking of your sis, her babe and your family as you wait in anticipation. Xoxo

(Ps - love the lyrical quality of this post. Also, sisters are the best. We went home last weekend (to where I grew up), and my sis went through some extraordinary feats of travel to make it and host a shower for us...really, sisters make the world go round)