Five Months and 318 Miles

My sister had just found out she was expecting her first baby when I saw her last winter. When I wondered and guessed and outright asked if she was pregnant. When we giggled and wept and hugged in the car.

And then lockdown. No ultrasounds together. No feeling her baby move in her belly. No hugs.

Our grief felt small compared to those who lost loved ones. We could die these little deaths for the protection of her baby and others.

But the distance was so great.

Until this past June, after five months, when she traveled 318 miles, and I felt her baby kick. (It was a good one!)

Now we count the days until her baby arrives—still separated, but reconnected—and she tells me over the phone how she washes and folds clothes for her little one. I remember doing the same, placing those newborn onesies designed for a tiny human on the shelf in the nursery. Only that tiny human is now fourteen and stands taller than I.

And like so many other times, I want to step out of time.

The past rushes by me in memories glued like photographs in my mental scrapbook. I want to linger long and remember each one.

My sister. Fourteen years between us. The baby sister I prayed for. The one I felt so jealous over, wanting to be the very first to see and hold her (after my parents) in the hospital following her birth. I remember rocking her to sleep. Feeding my sister her first solid food, pureed banana. And sleepovers when she was a little older, even a whole week together when she was eight and wore two French braids. Then, skipping ahead, standing beside one another on our respective weddings days.

There is a fourteen-year gap between us, the oldest and youngest of five siblings.

There are fourteen years between my sister and my oldest son.

And there will be fourteen years between my oldest son and my sister’s new baby.

Time. What a funny thing, how it repeats itself. How it moves so fast and yet stands still.

We feel time constrain and restrain us. It reveals our limitations. We run late. We run out of time. Where did the time go? If only we had more time.

Our confused relationship with time, difficulty adapting to and discomfort with it, suggests that we were designed for something outside of it. Something called eternity. And an eternal God.

These fleeting moments, the ones that make up so much of our days, are an opportunity to remember. To remember Jesus and his incarnation. How he stepped into time through a womb, giving belly kicks. How he took on flesh, sympathizing with our weaknesses. How he redeemed us and all our minutes and hours and days, giving meaning and purpose to them.

Five months and 318 miles might not sound like much, but the incarnation? Incredible.

Jesus traveled further—from throne to dust, across dimensions and space—than our time-bound minds can grasp. This act positioned him to carry our sin to the cross. To deal with our separation from God once and for all. To make a way for us to experience joy in and through him for eternity—outside the constraining, restraining forces of time.

Joy mingled with the sunshine as it descended—from above—on my sister, her baby, and me that Saturday in June. It was a single day, trapped in time, but elevated by memory and meaning. A day to remember.