Rosalee Gene came into this world quickly on Friday, Dec. 1, at 9:14 am. Before she was born we hadn't decided on a name, so we agreed we would need to meet her first. And when I met her I knew. I looked up at my husband looking down at the squishy, slimy, dark-haired little human resting on my chest and he said he knew too. "You say it first," he said. "Rosalee," I said. "Yes. I think so too. Rosalee."
Editor's note: Jessie Veeder and her family welcomed daughter Rosalee "Rosie" Gene on Dec. 1. Mother and baby are doing well, and we offer our sincere congratulations to them! Please enjoy this column written in 2011 while Jessie and her family settle into being a family of four. The Merriest Christmas to all of you! To honor your friendship and support I am giving you a gift that has been enjoyed by many families around the countryside here Christmas after Christmas, courtesy of my momma.
By the time you read this we will be a family of four. I'm writing this from a borrowed laptop in the basement of my best friend's house in Bismarck, waiting on a baby who has shown us that it's not safe to drive the three hours home, because we might not make it back in time to deliver. It's fitting really for this to be the sort of in-limbo news I'm sharing considering the tough and unpredictable month we've had as a family.
In the hardest times of our lives it seems we are reminded to be grateful. Grateful that it isn't worse. Thankful you still have your health or your loved ones besides you. That the cut wasn't deeper, the hit harder, the sickness more violent, the call closer. That in the end, we should be grateful that they're still here with us. Or be thankful that they're in a better place, even if you're not sure you believe in that place anymore.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit schools across the state through a program called "Poetry Out Loud," a national organization that our state arts organization facilitates. I spoke to the students in a few different formats, gave them writing prompts, talked music and road time and tried my best to give them a chance to share their stories too. Because really, these kids, they're more interesting than I ever will be.
She took his hand and looked him square in the eyes as he lay there in the hospital bed, in pain, worried and frustrated. His thoughts and words were clouded under the mask of painkillers, and it was her job to check his vitals, help manage his pain and answer his family's questions about what was going on in our dad's body. Seeing him in that hospital bed, the man who was in his wool cap and on a horse just days before, laying there so vulnerable and sick brought back too many memories of that long January night just three years ago when his heart tore and we nearly lost him.
I've known my husband since I was 11 years old. He's been my best friend starting sometime around when I was 15 when he was old enough drive out to the ranch to talk horses with my dad, and teach my little sister to play chess. We went to college together, we got married and we've moved six times. We're about to bring a second child into this world together.
I woke up this morning to the baby in my belly kicking, rolling and stretching his or her arms, snapping me instantly out of a dream and into the reality of another day spent being a pregnant mother. Inside this dark house, long before sunrise, my other loves were slowly waking up too. I lifted my daughter out of her bed and got her dressed for the day while she worked on slow blinks, little hands pressed to her face to wipe away the night.
My mom hasn't been sleeping well. She says she wakes up in the middle of the night and lies there in the dark and breathes her fears and worries in and out — about her kids and grandkids and the unpredictable and uncontrollable things that happen to us in the circle of community.
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — This morning I drove Edie to town to daycare so I could get some work done. My husband was gone hunting in Montana over the past few weekends and into this week, and so I've been on my own a bit more, managing a schedule of deadlines, performances, doctors appointments and fun, calling on my mom and dad, sister, mother-in-law and daycare provider to fill in the blanks of caretaking along the way so that my husband can have time to do the things that make him feel like himself, obliging, of course, because he does the same for me.