In fact, the birth of my oldest friend's first child was not what I thought it would be at all...and it made me realize our friendship was - once again - in transition.
I thought I'd be there. Like, when it happened. I thought somehow I'd be sitting there with her and witness her water breaking and hold the grossness of it over her head until we were in our wheelchairs at the group home together. But I wasn't. I was throwing back a few beers and crawling into bed at a little after five in the morning when our friend Stacy called to tell me she was at the hospital already.
We'd always called each other for everything. All the time. We were the type of friends who had those pointless phone calls in the middle of the day where we sometimes didn't even say much at all. An hour later, one of us would say, "so when are you coming over?" and the phone call was over.
Now she had a husband. And he had taken her to the hospital. I was trying hard to wake up, shoving a granola bar into my mouth to make Stacy laugh on our way down the highway and guzzling a Starbucks Double Shot. After it was clear it'd be a while before Madison's "coming out" party, I fell asleep on a curved sofa in the waiting room. We smoked cigarettes outside in the parking lot, made cell phone calls and waited all day.
Kim and her husband were together, waiting too. I wanted to be in the room with her. Just me and her. But that privileged part of our friendship was in a box of old photos and cards. There were too many people involved now, to be privileged. In-laws and other friends, a husband, a child. So I waited in the hall. I told my jokes, drank my coffee...but I wanted to be in the room with her - and figure out how life would change and keep on doing it.
Madison wasn't there. And then she was. And I took off to catch my Journalism class that had already started. Kim told me to hurry and not be late. So my friend was still there. Always telling me what to do. I caught a quick glimpse of the little girl and left. Had I known Kim's brother wouldn't be with us just a few months down the road - I would have stayed to enjoy every minute of the day with him. I would have looked at him closer. I would have watched her. So my memory of the day for her wouldn't be just one big rush. But I left.
And then I was back. I was so tired I explained to my professor the course of my day and he told me to head home. I stopped at the hospital again, thinking everyone was still there, soaking up Madison, Kim & Mike's big day. But they'd all gone. Madison was being wheeled to the nursery as I came up to the door. "Wanna take a quick look?" asked the nurse. I did. "Look at her," I said. "Just perfect." The nurse smiled at the terribly cliche moment and took the sleeping baby away.
Inside, Kim and Mike prepared for some sleep of their own. But we chatted for a few minutes. Just the three of us. As privileged as any family could be.
Happy Birthday - Mad Dog.