He knows that the first words I said to him were, "Hello, baby. I'm your mommy." They are not remarkable. Those were the same whispers many other mothers said their own swaddled newborns, finally (finally!) laid upon their stretched-tight chests. He stared back at me, alert, brown eyes glassy in the light. His spirit immediately filled the room. It was incredible. It was exhausting. The rest of the world, even my parents, peering down at us and absorbing all the other emotion in the room, faded into the background of my own awareness. For one tiny moment, it was just Lil E and me.
There was more medication that day than I planned for. There was also more sunshine out the window than many September afternoons. There were more people shuffling in and out and asking questions I couldn't answer. And there was more of a high, a feeling of triumph, a mountain-summit sensation than anyone could have prepared me for. There was more pain, but also more laughter than I'd have guessed. There was just as much joy and far more divinity than I knew would be in the room. It was exactly as it should be.
In the years since, we spent a lot more time alone than I would have anticipated. Sometimes, we've shared those same, starey moments, talking before bedtime or cuddling after tears or apologizing or trying not to laugh or wanting desperately to fall asleep. His legs are longer. Time has begun to etch tiny lines on my face. Life, in many ways, has spun faster and farther than a peek into the future could have predicted. But, you know, when we push back the ringing phone and neighbor kids running the hallway below us, exhale the stresses of work and kindergarten and missing the people we love, the wash of calm is much the same as it was on day zero.
I wouldn't change a thing. The pain, as it was even as I held that heart-lipped, red-faced baby boy as tightly to me as I could, was present then, has surfaced many times, and will come again. Of course, of course.It's all part of it, right? The brilliance is sometimes delivered with some agony, or at least discomfort, as we change, as the whole world expands. Even in the middle of it, when there's doubt the person will ever get out, when there's a question of how the story will unfold, who we will be on the other side, where it will take us -- everything is alright.
Achey and messy and completely magnficent.