Thus far I’ve documented several stages of anticipation regarding the advent of our first Grandchild, David Henry Campbell. “The Granddaddy letters” have chronicled joy, speculated on the future, wondered at the beauty of a simple sonogram image and even dabbled in “advice” to the new parents (thinly disguised, of course, as hopes and dreams).
Then yesterday, just four weeks ahead of the official due date, we ran into our first episode of serious concern. For Naomi, a weekend of severe back pain morphed into an early morning fever and it was “off to the doctor’s office” instead of going to work.
Little David – not so little, it turns out – had been (as my English friends would have said when I was a kid) “Giving some agro” to one of Naomi’s kidneys. Translated, that means he was wrestling, kick-boxing and variously pummeling the organ to the extent that it was unable to adequately perform its necessary functions.
The good news is that Naomi and Craig are very much on top of the situation and they have – unlike too many Americans – both viable health insurance and access to top-quality care. Our first grandchild is in good hands; he has been loved and taken care of since the first vague suspicion of a pregnancy. Our kids are doing this right, and in the context of mutual faith and commitment; we can’t ask for anything more than that.
The episode made me realize once again the extent of connectivity that runs so deeply in family. It amounted to part-two of a double-whammey that started Sunday afternoon at the Episcopal church during remembrance services for 9-11. We sang the old hymn The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended. During the middle two verses I thought of Naomi (far away in Connecticut) and of Andrew (all the way over in Tuscany)… and I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in my eyes.
We thank thee that thy Church, unsleeping while earth rolls onward into light, Through all the world her watch is keeping, and rests not now by day or night. As o’er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day, The voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away…
And, yes, it was already a nostalgia-loaded hymn because it was a family favorite growing up attending Sunday-evening services at Folkestone Baptist Church in England. And, yes, my parents were there with us that afternoon. And, yes, I’m turning into an “old softie” who has long-since conceded defeat in the battle to pretend that real men don’t cry…
It’s not so much that I wish our children still lived in Tampa – I honestly don’t, because I’m so thankful that they are leading full and meaningful lives, engaging in adventures that are truly their own. No, it’s more of a profound sense of love and gratitude and blessing, all wrapped up in a kind of wistfulness.
I don’t cry because I’m sad; I cry because I have learned – over the years – to feel things like love and loss and joy and yearning with an intensity that I don’t believe our human frame can handle very well – at least not mine.
Glimpses: In our human experience we are given glimpses – C. S. Lewis suggests – of the truth of heaven. Sometimes via music, or in relationships, or through art, or wondrous revelations in nature. Such experiences are a kind of muted preview. Too much of heavenly truth, Lewis theorizes, would do us in. That’s how seemingly contradictory phrases such as “withering beauty”, or “terrible ecstasy” manage to make sense.
Well, this love affair with life that I have; this parenting thing; this rich relationship with Rebekah; this upcoming granddaddy business; this renewed and ever growing spiritual awareness, I’m telling you, it’s all maybe more than I have yet learned to manage.
I am full with life, and sometimes I simply can’t contain it.