Today is Taylor’s birthday. This is the birthday we have been waiting for since she was born. The birthday after graduating from college, beginning her new career, and now living on her own.

As parents this is the birthday we hope for our children. That’s why we invest countless hours changing diapers, teaching them how to walk and ride bicycles, taking them to museums, cheering at sporting events, finding prom attire, scolding, molding, and preparing. We have waited for this birthday since childbirth.

What we didn’t know was that Taylor’s 2020 birthday year would be complicated.

In fall 2019, Taylor enrolled in her final year at NC A&T State University where she thrived academically leading as a wing commander of her ROTC unit. She was looking forward to serving her country in the US Air Force and being commissioned as an officer, following in her great-aunt’s footsteps. But then came Covid-19.

The virus prevented us from celebrating Taylor’s May graduation where she earned her degree in Mechanical Engineering. Following graduation, she was required to take a series of allergy tests before her commissioning ceremony could take place, however Covid-19 also delayed and canceled several doctors’ appointments which made the process drag on for what seemed endlessly. May through October 2020 were arduous months spent grieving and praying.

Our aunt, Lt. Col. Annie L. Lawrence, USAF retired, lost her life to the virus in June. Although she was in a VA residential care facility, we had hoped Aunt Ann could have participated in Taylor’s commissioning ceremony in some way. Aunt Ann had already saluted Taylor from her residential bed in 2019, but we never imagined she would been gone in 2020. We didn’t get a chance to say good-bye, to hold her hand, and to salute her for her years of service as an Air Force nurse in Vietnam. We didn’t get the chance to thank her for being a front-line worker and for being the second-highest ranking African American woman in the USAF at the age of 46.

Also in June, Taylor and I attended the private memorial service held for George Floyd who was born in our hometown, Fayetteville, North Carolina. We put on our protective gear knowing the risks involved with attending the service, but we felt compelled to show our respect to Mr. Floyd’s family and to grieve with the masses another unjust killing of an unarmed black man.

Taylor’s 24th birthday year was spent waiting and mourning, but joy comes in the morning!

In October, Taylor finally passed all her allergy tests, her commissioning service was held, and she is now serving as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

On Taylor’s birthday, I am reminded of another mother who waited with hope for the birth of the Christ child. A birthday that would bring unexpected grief and injustice as male children were killed, perhaps crying out to their mothers, as George Floyd cried out for his. Despite the difficulties we faced in 2020, I have peace in knowing that things have to get better. History proves that it does.

For over two thousand years ago; a baby was born, cradled in hope, rocked in peace, and wrapped in love. The birth of Christ reminds us that, “in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).

It is the birthday worth waiting for!

Lynn Brinkley currently serves as associate director at Baptist Women in Ministry.