And watching you come into this world, baby, you’ve made me believe

When she told me she was pregnant, I promptly burst into tears.

These weren’t tears of joy or excitement. No, these tears were borne out of loneliness (I was feeling pretty sad about how the relationship with my best friend had deteriorated, so changes in any relationships were hard) and insecurity (all my friends are going somewhere I can’t go . . . motherhood) and fear (that I might lose my friend to aforementioned motherhood). They were selfish tears, and I knew as they poured down my cheeks that I was a selfish friend, taking away from her joy by focusing on my own problems.

And so I watched as she started to show, as we had showers for her, as she made her plans. I guarded my heart, keeping just far enough away from her to protect myself when the inevitable happened – when she had her baby and I couldn’t be a part of her world anymore. I had been through it a few times, so I knew the drill.

On the evening of February 28, when the baby was finally born (a girl, just as I predicted), I didn’t go to the hospital. I didn’t know if I’d be in the way, and one of my biggest fears is that I would be in the way, be a bother. I cried that night as Mike held me, feeling loneliness like never before. I didn’t have that number-one-friend, the person who I know wants me around, and the person who will be around for me. And one of the closest things I had to that kind of a friendship had changed forever. We stopped by the hospital before church the next morning, and I got to meet the baby for the first time. I don’t remember if I held her or not. (Probably not. Newborns are a little scary.) I remember that she was beautiful and that she broke my heart. I was trying to be happy, but I had to fake it more than just a little bit.

Over the next weeks and months, I kept waiting for the contact to end, for the phone calls to fade away, for things to change. To my surprise, they didn’t. My friend seemed to be the same person as before, and I started to be able to give my heart to her daughter. I read to her and played peekaboo and held her and bought her clothes. I talked nonsense to her as she watched me with her big eyes. I watched her grow from an infant to a crawler to an almost-walker. Every time I see her, I try to bribe her into taking some steps for me.

And now she’s almost a year old, and I can’t imagine her not being in my life. I see how, in ways she will probably never know about, she helped heal my heart by giving me another person to love. She needed other people just like I do. She gave me hope and a new sense of wonder as I watched her learn new skills.

I’m not a mother, so I don’t know how strong a mother’s love is, and I wouldn’t claim to feel a motherly love for my friend’s baby. Instead, I feel a profound sense of thankfulness that God can use other people to refine us, even little children who aren’t yet old enough to call us “Aunt Kari” (whether we are technically an aunt or not is not the point). I have seen how the big bad things of the world don’t go away, but beautiful things like babies help balance them out, help us keep them in perspective, help us keep on living.

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