So this day last year was doubly special.
I love the day before a baby is born. It's like Christmas Eve times 1,000.
But then it turns out, on Christmas, your present is 26 miles away and you have to run barefoot on blazing hot bricks, fighting off angry lions, crippling stomach pains and nurses posing as drill sargeants to open it. While your husband eats a sandwich.
It's worth it, of course. But I always like baby eve, when I imagine, despite scientific evidence and personal experience, that the gift will come wrapped in an Egyptian cotton cloth carried in the mouth of a stork.
This day one year ago, I wrapped things up at work, knowing the doctor was inducing labor the next day. I cleaned the house and bought a new fish to replace the one that died. I named him Maryanne after my favorite character on Gilligan's Island. (It's not my fault that the pet store only sells male fish. And what did he care that he had a girl's name? He's a fish.)
I was nesting, a phenomenon that lasts nine months for some women, an entire lifetime for others. For me, it lasts two and a half hours, so I had to work fast.
At about 1 p.m. I picked up Johnny at my mom's, and we went to Indian Creek to look for shells.
It had rained that morning, so where you can usually walk along the banks was ankle deep water. We plodded along, stopping to catch minnows in a sandwich bag. You can't catch minnows with a sandwich bag. We gave up. We filled a grocery back with black and white speckled shells the size of thumbprints. It was about 90 degrees. The water was warm. It was a perfect day.
Then, half a mile down stream, we saw a deer leg on a high bank. Not the deer. Just the leg. It was picked clean except for a single tuft of hair. My heart was in my throat.
I stared at the muddy water, expecting an alligator to pop up. I looked in the trees lining the creek for mountain lions.
"Can we keep it?" Johnny asked.
"What? No!" I said. "Let's get out of here."
We rushed back to the trail, without getting eaten, needless to say.
And now Johnny is waking up ready to open his big surprise...a pacman frog...To be continued...