My eldest son turned 17 yesterday - I couldn't believe it! Memories of holding him in one hand kept creeping into my mind as I drove to the dentist, as I lay in the chair while he drilled, filled and pressed against my numb jaw, as I drove home again, wondering how long I'd have to wait before I could finally make myself a coffee, without burning my lips off. The distance between 1992 and 2009 had completely dissolved as I found myself back in Dallas, Texas, reliving every moment of that long, long, long day.
Of all the events that transpired, the most vivid memory to resurface was the one that was born a week after his delivery, when I was posing for a photograph with my new son lying in my right palm. I couldn't believe that I was holding a human being in my hand. He felt light and fragile and I was afraid. I remember the camera clicking its confirmation that this moment was now held in eternity and as I lay my son down in my lap I wondered who he would become. I wondered how the hell I was going to adjust to having this new person in my life and if, by some miracle, I would learn how to raise him.
I can still feel the soft, thin skin of his bowed legs. Still smell the baby powder I had dusted all over his belly. Still see the knowing gaze of a new soul that says "I chose you as my mother". Despite the 17 years between then and now, the mind's ability to flood the heart with memories that feel like current reality is astonishing to me. It is a gift that I reopen regularly, not just on birthdays. If only all the memories that resurface were as beautiful as this one.
There was another celebration yesterday - my friend became an author :-)
Another birth that I had the honor to witness. How cool is that?
As the memories of back labor subside into the growing list of things to do before I return home with 6, yes 6 teenage boys for what could be a long night tonight, I realize that the birth process is simply the period at the end of a sentence. It is the final letting go of the baby we have protected and nurtured for so long.
Our babies, whether they be human, or literary, are not ours to hang on to forever. They belong out there, alone and vulnerable, in the world we are working so hard to change.
I have been working my own novel, despite my silence here. I am fitting sentences in between the busy moments of my life. I printed everything out the other day and it felt good to hold it in my hands. It reminded me of the time I held my infant son; the time when I was so afraid I'd fail to be the mother he was hoping for.
My novel is now my baby and I have work to do.