Birth and reBirth. A short story by Colette Byrne

I had gotten used to each day exercising, writing, yoga workout or skipping. One day into the other with breathtakingly slow speed that defies the sense of time ever ‘flying by’ or ‘hastily moving on’ or even looking at the clock at all.
In a period where ‘is that the time?’ suddenly became ‘is that (still?) the time?’ we got caught between two brackets named Covid-19. The year 2020, the one that blew the millennials out of their status which some liked and some hated.
This was a special day because Thursday, the 11th of June 2020 witnessed the beginning of my journey with a 4.30 am alarm that entreated me to see the word Baby writ large across my phone. It rang out to the Universe about a precious person indeed, my next grandchild’s pending birth.
As I rose. I felt excited about getting to Eloise’s home in Dublin to babysit my eldest grandchild aged almost three years. She was about to be the only one in the house to change status, all going well. She was going to be a ‘big sister’. I had the honour of accompanying her on her journey to big sisterhood while her parents sought the safe delivery of their baby.
‘I will show you how to make porridge, Nana, I stand here on my chair and will say how it is made.’
‘Ok, darling, I will get the scoop.’
‘That’s not it, Nana, this is the one. See? We need to do it three times.’
‘That’s big, darling, maybe a smaller one?’
Her frown screamed ‘you’ve just got here, don’t start’ which always disarms my good intentions and heralds in automatic compliance. Under her directions, more porridge than was needed was made, but I knew the inaugural day of her big sisterhood could not be disrupted by a food overspill. It was fine and we sat down to a feast of fruit and porridge which, in fairness was delicious.
‘Get the list Nana’
‘Let’s see.’
I looked at the list of activities from 8.00am to 5.00 pm and wondered how her parents managed to work from home while providing such a comprehensive schedule to boot.
‘Do you do yoga, Nana.’
‘I do and I have my mat in the hall.’
We set up the mats, my darling Eloise of course commandeered mine and gave me hers. I found the channel for children’s yoga and off we went. The jumping from floor to standing in one easy move was a challenge but I managed. Eloise was so fast she was into the next move well before me.
‘You have to skip this one Nana.’
Each session was thirty-five minutes, which was completed three times in all. I gave myself permission not to exercise at home for the next week. It felt good though.
‘You were ok, Nana, you are good at Yoga, you need to go faster.’
We proceeded to drawing and painting which is a serious challenge for me. Her comment that while I was good at Yoga, I was not good at this part brought a smile.
‘You can’t be good at everything, Nana.’
‘You are kind. Shall we play shop?’
‘Yes, no, don’t think so, maybe more Yoga.’
‘Maybe we could tell stories, you go first.’
‘There was a girl and she was a big sister.’
‘Very good, what happened next.’
‘Don’t know.’

Silence. Cue the arrival of ‘the text’. A photo of a beautiful baby sister. With the added, ‘all good’. I sighed with relief while hiding the text, that was Mammy and Daddy’s joyous news, not mine to impart. The clock told me it was lunch time. The list said a sandwich.
‘I will have a Moo sandwich.’
‘A Moo sandwich darling? Ok, what is a Moo sandwich?’
Frantically checking the back of the list for a clue, to no avail, I Googled Moo sandwich and received a ‘no result’.
‘What does it look like?’
‘Like a Moo sandwich. Do you not know what a Moo sandwich is Nana?’
‘Well, no.’
‘Phone Daddy.’
A pretend phone call to Daddy.
‘He’s in a meeting.’
‘I will do it myself.’
On her pretend mobile she spoke to Daddy. Closed the mobile and said.
‘Daddy said you know what a Moo sandwich is.’
That sentence threw me into a pool of sweat. A light went on.
‘Can you help Nana to make it?’
We made the sandwich with strict instructions of two fillings between two slices of bread, with a tiny circle of tomato for each eye, a tiny triangle of tomato for the nose and a piece of rind for a smile. So far, so good. I suggested a grated carrot for the hair which I could see Eloise just about indulged.
‘Thank you for making the Moo sandwich Nana, you are ok at it.’
We munched our way through lunch. Daddy arrived in time for dinner and as we were sitting down, I asked about the Moo sandwich. He went to the drawer, picked out a sandwich cutter in the shape of a cow. He said that they simply make a sandwich and press down the cutter to make a ‘Moo sandwich’.
‘See Nana.’
That evening as we sat, Eloise having been told of her new status, I smiled down at her snuggled beside me.
‘I love you Nana.’
‘I love you too darling, big sister.’
Covid -19 may have worried us all but into Eloise’s extended family, a shining new light arrived. Adalene was with Mammy at last. Her joyous arrival gave everyone in her family a lift and brightened up the Universe.


Colette Byrne has had two pieces of fiction work published in Timeless in Kildare, an Anthology from Ink Tank Writers Group in Newbridge. She has also been published for her joint Travelogue pieces in The Roscommon Herald as well as having an academic journal article published in The Irish Probation Journal. She is currently working on her first crime novel.


  1. Love this so insightful and fabulous

  2. this is amazing, a beautiful story, and so well written! I love the descriptions of the interactions with the granddaughter. I am also working on my first crime novel;-) keep writing! Jessica

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback. Good luck with your novel. Well done. Keep writing.

  3. Lovely joyful story. You captured it Colette.

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