February 13, 2014

when my mother decided to move from upstate new york back to her home on the eastern shore, her first order of business was to invite all of our friends down. the kickoff shindig she threw was for my friends, who were all basically her ‘kids’ and she couldn’t wait to welcome them to her new home. in customary cornelia fashion, she had their cocktail of choice ready for everyone as they arrived throughout the day, including for my best friend heidi and her then-boyfriend randy. he poured himself a frothy ale while heidi asked for water – to explain why this was odd is to give you a long history of the parties that my mother and I hosted, which I won’t bother you with now – but let’s just say that a water request was unusual. as I looked at heidi, her eyes welled up as her hand went to her stomach and she said ‘I wanted to tell you in person.’ immediately knowing what this meant, I raced across the room and couldn’t let her go as I kept saying ‘oh my god’ and she would say ‘I know’.. ‘oh my god!’ ‘I know!’ ‘OH MY GOD!!’ ‘I KNOW!!’ as the tears flowed. heidi was my first friend to have a child so as her best friend, this was unfamiliar territory. hers was the first maternity session I ever photographed, the first time I ever listened with interest to birthing plans, the first baby gifts I ever sought out, and the first time I knew, really knew, that we were growing up. I was at work in baltimore when I got the call from randy that heidi had gone into labor and got to new york shortly after their daughter, whom they had named skylar, was born. I had no experience with babies.. zero, zilch, none. I was terrified that I would break her but I held her regardless and fear fell away as I was overwhelmed with a whole new love for this little, amazing, breathtaking person. as she grew up, I was ‘aunt’ raye and my role in sky’s life was that of her mother’s best friend – I was loved, for sure.. but still an adult, which meant that at times (ie: the early teenage years) I was, by default, not to be trusted with more than fun facts. then several years ago, something amazing happened.. she started talking, really talking to me. we talked about family and creative passions (she’s a crazy talented musician!). we talked about our fears and our dreams. we talked about accomplishments that we were proud of and things we wish we had never, ever done. we talked about boys, obviously…. and soon, when I would have a phone call with heidi, half of it was spent talking to sky and when we would all visit each other, sky and I would carve out a little time just for us. I know this.. if I ever did have a child of my own, I would want them to have a kind heart, a smart and wicked sense of humor, compassion, a quiet strength, sensitivity, a love for life and adventure, curiosity and a gentle nature. fortunately.. I already have all of that and so much more in my girl, my heart.