I raced down the road in my Santa Fe, intent on getting there in time, but still with two eyes firmly on the road, which was getting slicker by the moment as the snow continued to come down, following the sleet that had landed earlier. But I had gotten the call, the one that told me that time was of the essence. She wasn’t supposed to be here for a few more days, but she wasn’t going to be denied, and somehow I knew it was not a false alarm, that she was ready to make her appearance into this cruel world. 6 years ago today…
When I got to the house it was chaos, which was understandable. My wife was having labor pains. Our two-year old daughter Alexa was still awake even though it was after 11 at night because she knew something huge was happening. Then my mother-in-law arrived and whisked Heidi off to the hospital through the oncoming blizzard that was oddly reminiscent of the day Alexa herself was born. There’s something to be said for McManuses arriving in the midst of snowfall.
Thus began the longest night ever.
Alexa was not going to go gently back to bed, so I stayed in the living room on the couch with her and we talked for a few hours. It wasn’t like the way we talk now, but it was still interesting how much she knew, how cognizant she was about the new little life that was about to bless our world. I still think she was reincarnated from a wise old soul in another lifetime. So we laid down on the couch together and talked about how much we were going to love the new little one, about what we thought was happening at the hospital, and we waited for the phone calls, the updates that would tell us when our world had changed forever.
We got four calls, spaced out in intervals almost as if they had been planned ahead of time. The first one said she hadn’t gone to Cooperstown because of the weather and because of the increase in contractions time-wise. Instead they had been diverted to Little Falls, and just quickly enough because our little girl was on the warpath to follow the path that would finally lead her outside. The second call was the one we had been waiting for over the course of the previous nine months. She was here. Madeline had been born just after 1 in the morning on the 24th of December, 2008.
The other two calls were just updates on the progress of mother and child, and both were made by my mother-in-law as my wife recuperated from the exertion she had expended to bring forth life. And as I recall it all now, 6 years later, with my little girl curled up next to me, I’m reminded of the mix of emotions that coursed through my body right then after so much waiting. It was pure elation. And I feel that when I look into my little girl’s eyes every day, but especially on her birthday, because she was and always will be worth the wait.
When we finally went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Eve that year it was no longer just Christmas Eve anymore, and it never would be just that special day anymore, not for us anyway. Alexa looked at me and I looked at Alexa, squeezing her tightly as we held onto each other on the couch, and I said, “You’re a big sister now.” She smiled at me and said, “Yup.”