Perhaps in a busy world, it is the last beautiful images of the day that matter most; that linger and help us to make sense fo our world.
Last night, mine was of three young girls huddled close together under a pink umbrella; a new baby in their arms, as a light rain began to fall. I like to walk out to the gate and watch until the new moms and babies are beyond my view; until they turn the corner on the way to their villages.
There were eight births yesterday with so many images throughout the long day; cutting up the plastic table cloth to put under women, cutting blankets up to cover newborns, the thunder, the sweet open eyes of the newly born, the placentas one after the other left at Jason's door to be dug into the garden. The calls to Junior to keep the water buckets full and piles of laundry that had to be brought in half dry from the rain. Labors were short and long; sweet and hard; demanding and full of grace. A kaleidoscope of smells and sounds and images.
The three young girls, under the pink umbrella, arrived with their friend already pushing. They did not come with any grown ups; no mothers or aunts or grandmothers; just three teenage girls. We asked, "where are your parents" and they simply said, " she doesn't have a Mom." We pulled off her jeans as the head was just making its way into the world.
After the birth, they looked with appropriate teenage disgust at the vernix and blood. I don' t think it had occured to them that they come out naked and wet. But in time, they dressed him and the young mom wiggled back into her jeans and was ready to go. We convinced them to stay awhile and nurse and rest. In time the postpartum room was full of new babies and lots of people to visit with. She refused to breastfeed and when we asked what she had planned on feeding the baby she finally took off her bra and brought the baby to her breast with the encouragement of all the other moms in the room.
Then one by one the families said their good byes, newborn heads were kissed and only the three teenage girls were left. Slowly they gathered their things and went outdoors; raising a single pink umbrella, moving closer together and walking down the road.
There are people missing in every family; spaces left that can never be filled. Moms that would have been there if they could. And friends to hold an umbrella when they can't be.