December Babies – Part 1
What is it about newborns? Just the sight of those tiny hands, and feet, and small but perfect fingernails, evokes an audible sigh of pure enjoyment from me.
My friend Beryl and I had settled in for a cup of coffee and talk when we saw a young couple on one of their first outings with their newborn. His name was Matthew and he was just six weeks old. So tiny that when his dad held him, Matthew’s head rested neatly in the palm of his hand. The dad’s other hand cradled the rest of Matthew’s body. There was something peaceful and hopeful watching this couple as they watched their creation.
It was like their baby honeymoon period – that time of utter bliss when other cares recede into the background for a while. In this case the “while” was a stop for coffee – maybe lunch. An aura of something really special surrounded them.
Lucky us. The aura wafted over to us. Beryl being Beryl, had introduced herself by the time I got back from getting more napkins. We were drawn to their table talk and joined in the gazing and dreaming our own private dream for the health, life, and new journey of this tiny little human. Who knows what great things he will accomplish that can change his life, or his parent’s life? Heck, maybe change the world?
When I told Hank about the feeling of this encounter, he related a story he had never told me before. After you’ve been together over thirty years, lots of anecdotes by one of the other of you is no longer a million dollar story, but often comes under the category of “dollar story.” But this one was completely new.
Hank and two colleagues were taking the NYC subway downtown to their company’s new site at 120 Broadway. Not rush hour but the subway was still crowded, so subway was the quickest route from midtown to downtown.
No seats were available so they each grabbed a rail to hold on to as the train pulled away from the station. At the next stop there was a flow of exiting travelers and a new batch of riders coming in. One of the last to get on was a young woman holding a very young baby in her arms. Still no seats, so she reached up to grab a strap to hold onto.
Hank is usually low key and keeps to himself but something about this young parent and her baby moved him. He looked around. Most passengers were reading or dozing. No one got up to offer her a seat.
He moved in front of a young man who was sitting and reading. “You need to get up and give this woman your seat.” “Huh?” Young man looked up and saw who Hank was pointing to. “Oh yeah, here.”
“Sit,” Hank said to the woman.
“Oh no, that’s ok.”
“Sit. If the train stops short you’ll only have one hand to protect your baby. Sit.”
She gave a little nod and sat.
Was there a collective sigh of relief when the young mother sat down? Did people exchange glances and smile? I like to think so.
“I didn’t even think about what to do or say,” he told me. “I just knew it was the right thing to do.”
I find it easy to just do the right thing when it seems the person who needs help asks for help, or is vulnerable, or seems hurt or weak. It’s more difficult when it seems someone who needs help is closed or defensive about it. Could it be that’s just how I perceive them?
Hearing Hank’s story and thinking of Beryl and little baby Matthew, I noticed it was December 24th, a day that reminds me of the celebration of another baby who certainly did much to shape the lives of generations all over the world.
Pretty amazing. Tiny little babies who haven’t yet led crusades, changed laws, or even said one word. Here are some tiny ones in my life.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.