Seconds ticked by blandly from a black clock mounted on the wall beneath a silvery smooth sheet of metal, curved to form a woman’s upper body nestling a small baby in her arms. Jessie, my older sister, and I had been sitting in the lobby of our town’s women and children’s hospital for hours, staring at the wall and idly doodling. It should have been a much more eventful time, but honestly, we were bored. Finally, our mom’s head poked around the corner of the wing where Jennifer, a very close family friend, was resting in her room.
“She’s here!” Mom told Jessie and I excitedly. “They’re cleaning her up this way,” she added, leading Jessie and me to another hallway.
I was eager as Mom pointed her out through the window: Mikailie Jade Drawdy, who we’d been waiting nine months to see. I expected to recognize her somehow, seeing as I’d become so familiar with the sight of Jennifer’s rounded belly, but all I saw was a crying pink-tinged baby with a slightly pointed head.
Being thirteen, I was not impressed. In that moment, I had no idea that an unlikely and close relationship would grow between Kailie and me over the coming months and years. I also had no idea how much this tiny new life would teach me, especially concerning patience and how to appreciate the small beauties in life.
I learned my first major lesson from Kailie at the same time a reality crashed down around me. This happened a couple weeks after her birth when she fell asleep in my arms for the first time. After watching her in wonderment for a few moments, I realized: carrying a baby is tiring. This seems like a simple fact really, but I had never considered that all moms didn’t have some super-human power so that they never grew weary or tired while rocking or feeding their child. As the minutes wore on with me too scared to move much, lest she awake, my sister helped Kailie’s mom move into their new apartment, and my aching arms and slowly tiring back branded the truth into my mind. Although I wanted to with all my might, I didn’t sit on the floor, and I didn’t lay Kailie down. Instead, I patiently waited for Jennifer to finish unpacking, knowing that this little baby’s comfort and happiness was more important than my own. This was the first, but not the only time, Kailie tested my patience and resilience. Some late baby-sitting nights when she just wouldn’t stop crying, or afternoons when she whined at everything I said, certainly put my nerves on edge; however, every time she got excited to see me and every time she told me that my whole name was Favorite Aunt Katie made all the waiting more than worth it.
More important than learning to be patient or more comfortable with myself or more perceptive and aware of others, Kailie reminds me everyday to notice and value the small beauties in life. Being a new life herself, everything amazes and mystifies her. She giggles at the goofy site of our dog, Molly, rolling in the grass and finds immense uses for a large, empty cardboard box. To Kailie, rearranging refrigerator magnets are amusing and painting rainbows is the most beautiful way to spend any afternoon. She still gasps on the downhill turns from the top of Mt. Cheaha and loves to dance with her aunt Katie in the living room when the furniture is pushed back. I had never appreciated life like I do now that Kailie’s left her mark.
Kailie turns five this March and will head to Kindergarten as I make my way into college. No matter how far apart she and I are, she knows I’ll always come home, and I know I’ll always remember the life lessons she’s taught me.
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