I carry him crying and leave him thrashing. I have to let go, to help him let go. I trust he is safe and surrounded in love. Nevertheless, his words follow me as I walk away, my own tears falling: "I want to be with my family."
This morning, my baby fell off the bed. My toenail smashed into a bloody mess. My toddler wailed for his brother. Nothing, it seemed, could be accomplished beyond the bare minimum. Meanwhile, the world turned and hungered and wept, in need.
I keep imagining my children not breathing: stuck in tight places, lying on the floor with full mouths, smothered in blankets, escaped from my sight in a dark place I discover fearfully. I know these intrusive thoughts are fictions formed of the furtive urgency to keep my children safe. I try to relax - my children are breathing. But my mind fills with the faces of other little ones kept from their caregivers, separated from love by the belief that only some people are entitled to stay where they're safe.
Saturday, all I could do was sleep off a sore throat. Sunday, I found the severed limbs of trees that had valiantly, wildly grown for years, chopped down in minutes after seasons of striving.
Will my children have free, fertile ground on which to stand? What about their children? All children? Does anything I'm saying matter?
I see gentle smiles, feel a circle of embrace, and hear a soft voice saying, "I'm coming to help you." Again and again and again, angels appear.
I enter a spacious home and offer the promise, echoed back to me in a little voice, “Friends will be coming soon.” We prepare together to welcome them.
I sit in a house full of people hearing one another's wonders and woes, caring for one another's kids and each other, sharing space and time and love to make everything more bearable. I am held and holding. I am filled and restored.
I watch my child run to me, beaming: "I had a good day!" I listen carefully as he shares his stories and details. I treasure a brief time of connection. I feel fresh tears of relief roll down in release: “Mom, I saw something beautiful on the other road below us. Sorry you missed it. Next time, just look out your window. Keep looking. And you'll see.”
I suddenly feel in my body - in the midst of the strain and absurdity of living - a levity. I feel a clearing, a rooting. A surrender and celebration. I hear a voice, mine, singing. There is always a song, waiting.
When many voices sing in harmony, there is enough vibration for each one to pause, to take a breath, to sip water, to rejoin the chorus at the right time.
My two-year-old excitedly declares, "Yes, milky, yes!" as I offer to nurse his fussy baby brother. I ask, "Do you remember when you drank milky?" His brown gaze turns inward, pensive and pondering. I watch his expression soften. His face is still so round and sweet. He looks at me. "Yes." Another pause. "I drink milky downstairs. With Mommy. In Mommy's bed." I ask if he misses it. Another pause. Eye to eye. He nods silently. Wistful, not sad. I ask if he wants to have Mama's milk again. Furrowed brow. A solidness in him, a contentment with what is, a gratitude and release. “No. No more milky.” He softly pats his brother's head and smiles at me.
My four-year-old tells me about his day. “My friends and I made a potion! At first, some of us set traps for one friend. I wanted to trap him since he messes with me. But then…” A pause. Oh, what I would give to know what transpired. “We found a way to do something together. We were witches! I want to play with him tomorrow.”
My father teaches my children that the space around the trees will allow them to grow deeper and taller, to flourish. He does not cut them down, but unburdens them from limbs too low and heavy. Evening light casts halos around their heads as they walk across acres of growth. He shows them that there are shoots emerging from something he thought was dead. They all look, astonished.
I notice myself humming.