This is it.
This is the month that set the orbit for our entire year. We are gearing up for two events, which will happen in the span of a week, the blink of an eye: My younger brother, Tony, is getting married and my older sister, Angie, is having a baby.
The countdown we launched last winter, the number that felt so big and distant, is rapidly dwindling. Now we are scurrying around, setting things in place, whitening our teeth and watching our waistlines – especially Angie’s.
There is a headcount to finalize and a nursery to complete, plus final check-ins with the deejay and the doctor. We will try to keep it all together, but it is all so tightly wound: steamed dresses and high hopes, shined shoes and tangled nerves.
My final wedding task – scanning old photographs and arranging them into a slideshow – has made me aware of the swift passage of time. There is Tony, with all those freckles and the dimples in his upper cheeks. He is a ring bearer, a prom date, now a groom. There is Jodie, with those round brown eyes and that button nose, riding in a Huggies box, visiting Santa, traveling to South Africa, walking down the aisle. The snapshots play out just as the years did, in fast forward.
But my nostalgia isn’t wistful; it is tinged with cheer, a sense that these two people belong together and that this growing baby belongs in our family. What looks like change, in many ways, is a continuation of what has been: the same traditions, the same sacraments, the same stories and songs.
I was reminded of that last weekend, when my dad took Angie’s firstborn, 2-year-old Isaac, to the zoo we visited every summer as kids. Dad is still a superb guide, whistling at the orangutans and pointing out the tigers. Sparky the Seal performed the same tricks, and Isaac clapped from Dad’s lap.
We revisited the carousel we used to adore. Isaac looked timid on the big painted horse, but after making several rounds and finding us waving from the same spot each time, he finally broke into a smile. The band organ hummed Cat Stevens’ “Another Saturday Night,” and Dad sang along.
The next day the aunties threw Jodie a bridal shower, where we supplied her with towels and blankets and Tony trivia. I watched everyone greet her with genuine affection, and I knew, as Teresa wrote in her card, that Jodie already has become a part of our family, just like that little baby, whose face and name we long to know.
Isn’t that how life goes, that God showers down double blessings, and our thirsty souls are not only quenched, they are doused. We blink and quiver, stunned by how much the human heart can hold.
Pope Benedict XVI says our families provide “living images of God’s love” – flesh-and-blood examples of divine mercy and undeserved kindness. When we learn to share bedrooms and bathrooms, attention and dreams, we serve as a “sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race.”
This month my family will be thrilled by new additions and comforted by their familiar forms. We are building on what has come before, blessed and ordained by the same everlasting God.
Soon we’ll enter into a flurry of camera flashes and Hallmark cards, hugs and toasts, and somewhere between the chicken dance and the contractions, there will be grace pouring down.
Christina Capecchi is an award-winning freelance writer from St. Paul, Minn.