This morning, Olivia was fed and bathed. I lay her on our bed next to the baptism gown that had first been worn by Mark's father, then by every baby in the family ever since. The gown is beautiful- handmade with lace and tiny buttons. From her birthday suit to this special gown, I buttoned our angel into it as she smiled at me. Then, she promptly spit up on it- leaving her mark and making it her own.
We drove to the Church of St. Paul and were surprised by the number of cars in the parking lot. When we stepped inside the church we were asked, "Are you here for the funeral?"
"No. The baptism."
Life beginnings. Life endings. Occuring at the same time, in the same place. This does not escape me, but follows me down the hall, past the people standing in small groups, speaking in whispers, cloaked in mourning, saying 'Goodbye.'
Just a year ago, cancer loomed over me like a death sentence. Today, I carry a new life into this church. As I walk, I am thinking about the fine line that separates a baptism from a funeral. My heart is heavy for the people I pass. I hurry and don't look at them directly- so I don't intrude on their grief. Then, Olivia smiles and coos. People smile back at her. I realize, this line only exists in my mind. With a smile, the line dissolves. This is life. We all share it.
We were directed to the chapel. This is the same chapel where Mark and I were married. Our families gather around us. Mark's childhood friend, Mark, and his wife Meagan stand as Olivia's Godparents. Prayers and candles. Grateful tears mingled with the fussing of a baby, the joyful voices of toddlers and the explorations of small children. Outside the large windows- the beauty of nature. Towering trees, glistening snow and a squirrel hopping happily along the drifts.
After, there is cake and visiting at our house. The baptism gown is carefully removed and given to Mark's mother, who will hand wash and store it for the next baby.
Throughout this day, Olivia smiles...