It was the night my niece was born. My father told me my sister had gone into labour.
I was shocked.
I had been planning to be there. I was going to go visit her a couple weeks before she was due. This sure as hell wasn't supposed to happen now. She wasn't supposed to get flown to Vancouver with my Mom three months early. My father told me he was driving to be with my sister. My mouth answered before my brain caught up, "I'm coming with you." He'd known before I said it though, he knew how close my sister and I are.
We quickly put our affairs in order, leaving less than two hours after we first heard the news. We set out in mixed spirits, my sister was giving birth, my sister was giving birth 3 months early.
The phone call. I still remember the phone call. We were passing through the Kootenays some time after midnight. It was still winter in the mountains, the stars were shining brightly, no clouds really, if I was superstitious I could have taken that as a good sign.
We were passing from village to village, stepping stones to Vancouver, following the winding path to my sister. Part way between two my father's phone rang. He answered it before it had a chance to ring twice.
"Uh huh." "Are they alright?" "Okay." . He hung up.
"It's a girl. They're both all right," the words barely escaped his throat. I took and squeezed his hand, we shared a quick glance, before our eyes returned to the road. We drifted in silence, holding hands for a time, the light slowly growing brighter behind us. The light licked out in fingers, glistening on the snow as we received further updates. My sister would need to stay in Vancouver with my niece for three months until the medical team was sure my niece would be okay.
By the time we arrived it was afternoon. We had just suffered through the worst traffic I'd ever been in(I'm sure my anticipation hadn't coloured my perceptions, nope not at all.) We were admitted to see my sister almost immediately, my Mother was there with her. When we went in I greeted my sister. I then informed her that I would be moving back North to take care of her home. It would be waiting for her, and her daughter, when she returned.
Shortly thereafter we were taken to see my niece in the prenatal intensive care area. She was tiny, barely longer than my hand. She shone a remarkably rosie red on all surfaces. She lay there surrounded by that plexiglass cage, needles with tubes nearly the size of her arms running into her, sustained by science and the hard work of the prenatal nurses. I fucking love science. I freaking respect nurses. My father and I approached the cage, looking down at this newest addition to our family. "Button," he mumbled, "my little button." A fierce, joyous grin spread across his face as he looked down at her, his smile so full of love that the sunrise of that morning seemed dull by comparison.
My sister and I spent the next week hanging out, we went out, explored New West, visited "Button". We talked about names for her child, what she was going to do once she went back North, the Dungeons and Dragons campaigns she'd been GMing, how much her cat missed me, you know the important things. That week was enough for me to fall in love with Vancouver, even with all the rain. I returned north where I quickly found a job as a cook/delivery driver(Hey, don't judge, I was making killer coin). I pet her cats, I paid her bills and I played video games with friends. I hadn't seen my friends since I'd travelled south with my sister the year before. But those are other stories, which I'll tell another time.
Hmm, in fact that kind of led me to ...