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My daughter, Rachel, gave birth to her first born, Eli, on February 18, 2020. I had just returned from a meeting in Ireland, and was on my way home to Montana when I got that infamous one thirty AM phone call that I might want to get on the first flight out and high tail it to Washington, DC where she lives with her husband, Robby. I arrived just in time to see my exhausted daughter, with that radiant postpartum glow, cradling the most beautiful newborn boy. I was now a grandmother, and despite my trepidation that the word alone put me in the geriatric category, the new role proved to be as magical and transformative as everyone told me it would be. This was just before COVID restrictions changed labor and delivery rules and I was able to stay near Rachel in the hospital and then for a month to help her at home. 

But all good things wind down, and it was time for Rachel and Robby to establish their own space with Eli. So I headed back to Montana and the summer of 2020 that none of us will ever forget. These new parents were now working from home and raising their son. The pandemic had given them the unexpected gift of being able to absorb every moment of their son’s first life. It was the silver lining in an otherwise horrible situation. We kept in touch with daily photos and Zoom…but it was no substitute for the real thing. I missed them so much. 

As a healthcare worker I was able to get vaccinated relatively early and I counted the days between my second Moderna shot and when it would be safe for me to get back on an airplane. Everything timed out perfectly. I boarded my United flight double masked and wearing a face shield. I was determined not to be the carrier of anything that could disrupt this reunion or harm them. A year after welcoming Eli into the world I was able to be there for his first birthday. I’m not fooling myself….For Eli it was a day just like any other. But for me it was heaven on earth.