On the day she came, we all gathered at the hospital; the one overlooking the blue, smokey spine of the Appalachian Mountains, the one thirty minutes away from the other hospital where her blonde cousin, Isabelle, was also being born. It was a dreary September day. The kind where your eyes are always squinting and searching for the sun to come out from behind the thick, milky skies. The kind that needs a warm light to emerge and melt away the gray.
When she's older, I'll tell her how hard her mama fought to meet her. I'll describe the quiet resilience of her daddy, how his eyes held all the strength her mama needed to make it through the arduous path of labor. All around them, the room vibrated with excitement and adrenaline, but those two formed a steady band of love that never broke and steadily pulled her into their arms.
And when she came, although it was well into the evening hours, it was if the light finally arrived. Like clear sunbeams finally breaking through, Claire Elizabeth was born and the world instantly became a brighter place.