The Other Side

I heard the soft scamper of four little feet across the wood floor. First my oldest, then my middle child, came voicelessly into our bedroom, climbing up and cuddling close between their parents. The child in my womb tossed and turned, resettling for sleep like his brothers. In the dark, I felt our five bodies arranging themselves against each other, our breath calming into sync, as the clock blinked 2:30am.

Through the open window, sounds of a storm floated to us, melding with the gentle music playing in our room: flute notes in the rainfall, violins strums in the thunder, chimes and bells against the windy backdrop. The temperature dropped by the minute. My mind wandered to earlier in the evening when we had hiked in the unusually warm December dusk. Families and friends walked and ran and biked in all directions. The woods held a certain mystical quality, as if the waning light hung like a veil between this autumnal scene and winter approaching. I felt I would turn at any moment and see someone there from the other side, from another place altogether, telling us what was to come.

We had walked a path through the forest, up the tallest hill, and to a magical night view of bare branches clinging to dark clouds before returning the very way we came, my partner and children and I hand-in-hand-in-hand-in-hand, the baby within me leaping and swimming.

There are moments you suddenly come fully into your body and remember YOU ARE ALIVE. Making love, making adventure, making believe, making way - you feel the thrill of your breath and sensorial sharpness. You feel another's breath against your body and the limits of your physical self pressing against an ethereal edge. Whether or not all mystery is embodied, it is no less marvelous, always simultaneously self-dissolving and self-awakening. It moves among the trees and over papery leaves and in the space between day and night.

It gathers in the place where each member of my family joins, whether we walk or lay side-by-side or far from one another. Our meeting spaces - in a memory, kind word, awe-filled connection, emotional experience, shared lesson, or mutual awareness - show how common and cosmic, this union. It rumbles and flashes, it cleanses and fills, enveloping us like a storm.

As I laid in the soft bed next to the window and my dearest loves, I could not fall back to sleep. I could only lay still, silent and awake.

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