“I was born at the hospital,” Clara explained to her sister in the backseat. “You were born at home.”
Lydia nodded, “Yes, because I was fast and you were slow,” she added. They both knew these simple facts very well. They have heard their individual birth stories numerous times and it is always somewhat surreal to hear them retelling the event of their own birth, in their own words. I listened without interrupting.
“Also,” Clara continued, “There were lots of other people there when I was born, but when you were born-”
Lydia proudly finished her sentence, “Only Mommy and Daddy were there!” She smiled at me in the rear view mirror. And I reached a quiet hand back to pat her knee.
I could see they were both thinking, and we drove on in silence for a while, maneuvering the roads on a late evening trip to Walmart. Finally, Lydia decided she had something she wanted to ask, “Where was I when Clara was born? Did I come to the hospital too?”
I raised an eyebrow. This had come up before, and it is not an easy question to answer. Thankfully, Clara came through with her own interpretation.
“You were in heaven,” she said plainly. “You were there waiting to be born. You and Gideon were waiting together, I guess.”
Lydia nodded and looked out the window at the sun. “Oh yeah. I remember now. I was waiting with Gideon. And then…” she said slowly, “Then it was time for me to be born and I gave Gideon a big hug and I said, ‘I’ll see you in a little while!’ and he was sad. But we agreed that it was my turn, and he would come later.”
I drifted into a parking space and shut off the engine. We all sat for a few seconds while I chose my words. I turned around in my seat to face Lydia. She turned to look at me, a halo of yellow curls circling the crown of her head. Blue eyes shining with an inner glow.
“Lydia,” I said gently. “Can you tell me if there was anyone else there? I mean, were there any other little babies waiting with Gideon when you left? Any little boys or girls that might still be waiting?”
She turned again to look out the window and squinted at the setting sun. It was as if she were listening for an answer from somewhere far away, “I can’t really remember.” she frowned and looked back at me, “It was a very long time ago.”
“Well, that’s okay.” I said. And then I placed my hand on her chest and released her from her seat belt.