I love surprises. When I turned 6, my mom threw me a surprise party. All the neighborhood kids came. It’s one of my best childhood memories. Walking in to a bunch of voices yelling, “SURPRISE!” is wonderful!
This Valentine’s Day, my husband gave me a day full of surprises via sealed envelopes. I was to open only one at a time. He had designed a day devoted to taking me to places that only I would dream of going, beginning with La Madeleine for breakfast. He hates La Madeleine (not his thing!), but I love it. I can’t tell you how much this day of surprises meant to me.
However, when speaking of surprises in general, they’re not always welcomed with open arms. Some of life’s surprises don’t fit inside our rule book, so we don’t recognize the surprise as a treasured gift.
I’ve written a little about our first surprise. The news came on the heels of Kristen’s diagnosis, at a time of uncertainty in just about every way possible. Surprise, thy name is Katy. And what a lovely surprise she turned out to be, for all of us.
Katy came only 19 months after Kristen. Not only were we not planning on having more children ANY TIME SOON, if ever…we sure weren’t going to have them that close. I mean, are you kidding?
Katy made our world normal again, or at least as normal as our world could be. She took our myopic eyes off our first child and made us step back and take in a whole new scene, one full of two children. Both of them needed our love, and we lavished it.
Kristen was delighted to have a little sister — though not at first. When she got used to having someone share the spotlight and affection, she loved having a comrade in arms.
Those two were inseparable. It wasn’t long before Katy passed Kristen verbally (which was bittersweet), but Katy, with her cheerful, bouncy nature, was inspiration for her big sister. Kristen loved to watch Katy and follow her, laughing, romping, verbalizing. Though Kristen didn’t play in the same way Katy did (Kristen often hyper-focused on an object, or instead of playing with Barbie, she threw Barbies repeatedly across the livingroom), she watched Katy. “Come on, Kristen!” Katy would shrill, and Kristen would go running after her sister.
Katy made friends easily, something Kristen didn’t do. One of her best friends, Emily, was the daughter of my best friend,Tammy. We’ve always marveled at how God put our friendship together. Tammy was Kristen’s first speech therapist at Easter Seals. When we discovered we lived only a couple blocks from each other, our friendship blossomed. It was natural for our kids to be friends.
Whenever we got together, Katy and Emily chattered and played with their toys, and Kristen followed, loving their company. Tammy and I talked in the den, curled up on the sofa. It was a fall day in 1988 when I told Tammy, “I’m late.”
When her eyes got big, I waved my hand dismissively. “Oh, don’t worry — I took a home pregnancy test. Anyway, there’s no way I’m pregnant.”
Tammy laughed. “Isn’t that what you said with Katy?”
I gave it another week and another negative home pregnancy test before I was off to my doctor.
This felt very familiar.
Dr. Cutrer was, again, jubilant. “Guess what? You’re pregnant!”
Surprise, thy name is Sarah.
Surprise, surprise. I do love surprises!