Everything is heavy - your eyelids, the baby pressing into your pelvis, the intensity of labor pains you know are merely preparatory but nevertheless distracting, your heart as it holds a fraction of the sorrow of global poverty and ponders the absurdity of your present moment, driving a minivan down an off-ramp to the grocery store to buy food shipped here on a plane from overseas. You are scanning the traffic, addressing your children in the back seat, operating through a foggy mind -
Everything stops. Everything shakes. Your eyes leak. You've hit the car in front of you. You pull your vehicle into the nearby lot, trembling. You are falling apart simply anticipating the interaction with the sizable, gruff man exiting his large truck. Your belly is so big but you suddenly feel so small and weak. You try to breathe deeper into your awkward body as you open your door.
Everything stops. He meets your eyes. He disarms you with his gentleness. "I'm fine. My car is fine. I'm five minutes from work, I won't be late. You okay? I saw you, talking to your kids. I understand. Little ones? Hey, sweethearts! Your bumper looks fine. You've got another one on the way, don't you! Honey, you can stop crying. We're okay. You okay? No worries. Be safe. Take care."
You return to your seat, gathering your bearings. You close your eyes. You suddenly are transported back to a few nights ago, sitting in an armchair in your living room, listening in the dark. Your husband is whispering sweet words to your sons as they snuggle in the big bed in the room next door, drifting off to sleep. Snow is steadily falling, weighing down fresh blossoms on the trees and covering the new, fragile grass. Your sister-in-law has been laboring for days with her first child, and your heart goes out to her, both remembering and anticipating as you feel your abdomen tighten, your womb stretch.
Tears fall because, there in the silence, beauty overwhelms you. The snow is blanketing your spirit. Spring arrived with a surprise winter did not bring. The flowers will survive. Your sister-in-law will make her own journey triumphantly. The baby will be born perfect. Your children are at peace, not realizing they have each taught you what you could not have ever imagined, and left you with soul-visions that defy description: glimpses of faraway galaxies, paths through unknown forests, the unfathomable depths beneath ice that is aeons old - places you can never go, but they will. Fierce love for your life surges through your heart. You feel the memory of your lover's arms around your waist as he clung to you the night before, holding you up as you soared in your body, closing the space between you and anything eternal in the universe.
Here and now, you refocus your eyes. The sun is dancing on the snow so brilliantly your tears make sparkles of the rays. You keep driving, much more slowly. You think of people alive at this moment around the globe - hauling water, holding the hands of dying others, huddling and hoping, hobbling amid garbage for the next source of sustenance. You feel your love for them reaching across spacetime. You wait in the parking lot to finish weeping, then wipe your eyes and open the door again. You take the hands of your children, walking inside the store, doing what you must do to feed them.
Later, after a full day, you stand outside. The snow melting sounds like a flowing stream. The flowers are still pink against the evening sky. Your children's bubbling laughter, your husband's kind eyes, your bare feet on the cold ground, jingle like bells against your senses. Everything is close.
You breathe it in while it lasts.