BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — First-time grandmother Pat Gray will never forget meeting her granddaughter, Maeve. Maeve was born in March of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic closed down New York State and the rest of the world. Out of safety, Pat and her daughter Shelbey Timmons decided grandmother and granddaughter should meet through a glass door.
"I just - my heart just melted. I saw this little baby, and I saw my daughter, we were both in tears," Pat recalls.
Shelbey's husband captured photos of their meeting, which were shared hundreds of times last March when they were posted by 7 Eyewitness News. At a time when the community was still struggling to fully understand the COVID-19 pandemic, the photos resonated with so many.
"It was like one of the saddest, happiest days of my life," said Pat. "I was so sad I couldn't hold her and touch her, but I was just so happy that she was here. And she was healthy."
It wasn't the way the two were supposed to meet. Pat planned to be with Shelbey at the hospital, but Maeve's March 16th birthday came right at the time everything started locking down.
"It was like 24 hours - everything just flipped!" recalled Shelbey.
So the family connected virtually at first through Facetime.
"She said do you want to meet your new grandchild? And I just burst into tears, and there were people around me in the office and I was holding my phone - and everybody was like - let me see!" Pat laughed.
When it came time to meet in-person, the mother and grandmother decided it would be safest through the glass. It wasn't an easy decision for the family, but they say it was the right one.
"When you have a baby who do you want? You want your mom. And I'm on one side of the glass and they're on the other - and it was just heartbreaking. But knowing that they were safe and healthy was all I cared about," said Pat.
About six weeks later, Pat was finally able to hold Maeve. Now, more than a year later, she's able to visit as often as she wants. She says while it's been a difficult year, her first grandchild has been the light at the end of the tunnel.
"It just - the whole pandemic - this has made it bearable. Every time I see her I fall in love all over again. It's like the first time I saw her - every time I saw her."