"Bridging the Gap"

I knew I had a big brother, but it was very easy to forget that at times.

On August 30, 2008, my life was changed for the better. At 5:12 a.m., after a long day in the hospital, five and a half hours of intense labor and two hours of pushing, my sister-in-law gave birth to my nephew, Henry Jonas Harrell.
Now, only my brother would name his kid after a song by his favorite band, but that’s Tim. The name Jonas came from the song “My Name is Jonas” by Weezer. And as for Henry, well, not much goes well with the last name Harrell. Apart from a slightly odd name for this day and age, Henry was a bit on the perfect side. Weighing in at 7 pounds 10 ounces and stretching a span of 21 inches, Henry brought change to my entire family.
The moment I took my new, and only, nephew into my arms, I was overcome with a bundle of emotions that I was not expecting to experience. I suddenly felt a love unlike any other for this tiny human that I had just met. Although he was not my own child, I knew that I had a connection with him. He was from my family.
I also experienced pride when I looked at Henry. It was far beyond anything I could understand as to how my brother could play a roll in creating something so perfect. Henry had 10 fingers and toes, rosey-red lips and sparkling blue eyes. I had seen plenty of babies before, but this one was special. He had my same last name.
I know most people get really excited when a baby is born into their family. It’s only natural, but for me, Henry was more than just a baby being born into my family. Henry was a way to bridge the gap.
Being the youngest of three children, I never had a relationship with my older brother. When I was born, he was already 11 years old which meant by the time I was old enough to desire a relationship with him, Tim was in a completely different stage of his life. When I was going into first grade, Tim was entering Ouachita as a college freshman. We never had the chance to establish a relationship.
The relationship between Tim and me almost seemed nonexistent the older I got. I knew I had a big brother, but it was very easy to forget that at times.
In January of 2008, Tim and Nancy, my sister-in-law, met my parents and me in Arkadelphia on the same Saturday as bid day at Ouachita. My parents, Tim, Nancy and I were all sitting in my dorm room when Tim made the big announcement that they were going to have a baby.
My entire family was really excited, especially because this would be the first grandchild. But, I had different motives for being excited. I knew it was going to be fun having a little one around during all of the holidays, but I had high hopes that I would be able to grow a little closer to my brother through this baby.
As the months went by and the due date grew nearer, there were minor changes in the relationship with my brother. I tried my hardest to show how excited I was, and that I genuinely cared about my brother and his family.
In early July, I was able to attend a baby shower for Tim and Nancy. I had bought the baby just a couple of stuffed animals because that’s all I could afford. When I overheard my brother telling some ladies that “Cassie is going to be a great aunt,” a smile spread across my face and I was happy that Tim could see I was trying.
When the time came for me to move back to school, I did not want to go. By this point, the baby was two weeks overdue and I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to be there for the birth, since Tim and Nancy live in Chicago. When Tim called my parents with the news that they were going to have to induce, I was excited. It just so happened that they would be inducing on the Friday that classes started.
I went to my first day of classes, explained to my teachers that I would not be there for the rest of the week, and got in the car with my parents for a long ride to Chicago. The baby was coming.
When we arrived in Chicago, things didn’t go the way we anticipated. Nancy had to go through a very long labor and my parents and I were left on our own for 24 hours. I couldn’t help but think about all that I should have stayed at school for.
When we got the phone call at about six in the morning on August 30, my family and I rushed to get ready and get to the hospital because we had just learned that the long awaited baby had arrived. This was also the point in time that Tim and Nancy had decided to tell my parents and me that they had named the baby Henry Jonas. It was exciting to no longer call him “the baby.”
Henry was and still is perfect in the eyes of my family. He is now almost a full eight months old and precious as could be. I know there are many memories to make involving my nephew, hopefully the type where I get to baby-sit and fill him with sugar so mommy and daddy will have a fun time when they get home.
Although I am thankful for all of the memories I already have with Henry, I am most thankful that he has come into my life and bridged the gap between my brother and I. Without Henry, Tim and I would still never talk. Because of Henry, we have something to start conversations that lead to other things. I guess it’s true that a baby changes things, but sometimes in the most unexpected ways.


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