Water turned to wine. Standing, unassisted, for the first time. A sea parted. Cells joining and dividing and dividing until what started as singular is complex. Burning bushes.
My hand on his chest, rising and falling to the rhythm of his breath, his heart beating into my veins. His eyes closed, consciousness altered. He sleeps. I watch. His lungs expand and contract, his heart pumps blood through his body – so big yet still so small. He has made it five times around the sun so far with every likelihood, barring unforeseen tragedy, of making that trip many times more, and he has gone most of the journey unencumbered by wires and beeping, alarming machines.
It feels like a gift that he is here, that I am here, that we exist at all.
The material for everything that has ever existed and will ever exist here from the beginning. A virgin birth. Language acquisition through exposure and mimicry. The sun, moon, and earth aligning such that day turns momentarily dark along a certain path. Laying of hands healing. Unconditional love.
An elevator trip, one of many I’ve taken in this same building. People crowd in, many in white lab coats. All day they are here, making a study of the human body and its fragilities, of all the ways things can go off the rails. All day they are here, this elevator ferrying them to people in possession of wayward bodies, people in search of deliverance.
What I feared would never happen is: My body is recognizing itself again, the attacking cells are on the retreat, any pain I experience will once again be transitory. Someone knew just what would help me, and I can now see past the chronic pain to a time when it will not consume me.
White light. Fives loaves of bread and two fish feeding a multitude. A body so massive not even light can escape. The unfathomable depths found in the eyes of another. A cat that is both alive and dead until the opening of a box.
A tiny newborn, not even four pounds. Adhesive patches dot his tiny chest, holding the wires that connect him to a machine that monitors his heart rate, the oxygen level in his blood, and whether or not he is breathing. There are alarms sounding with near constancy from all points in the room, although most of them are false. No matter. I am on high alert. Every beeping machine sends my sympathetic nervous system into overdrive. My baby, not my baby, it is all the same.
He is alive. He might not have been. He is.
The splitting of the moon. Wind and water carving canyons over millennia. A lotus flower blooming everywhere at the foot of the Buddha. Pathogen-ingesting cells. The amount of empty space in an atom and, therefore, in everything, even the most solid seeming thing. Entering the flesh again.
Forty-one days. I hold him in my arms untethered for the first time. We walk away from the machine, out of the room, out of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, down the hall, leaving it all behind. We never make it past the elevator, although we could. We could call that elevator, descend to the lobby, walk out on to Broadway. We could keep walking forever, just the two of us, out of the last still frame of a moving picture, into infinity. The whole world, in all its mystery, majesty, and magic, with all its happenings mundane and miraculous, with all of the pain and heartbreak woven into the fabric of its very existence, is ours. There is nothing holding us back.
Five hundred pieces of firewood split on command. Capillary action. A never-ending sari. A vast network of gossamer filaments, pathways for communication and cooperation, connecting the forest underground. Statues of Ganesha taking up offerings of milk. Radical self-acceptance.
Feverishly hot little limbs tangled in mine. Black shirt with glow-in-the-dark insects that throw an eerie green light across the room, so intense and alive I can almost hear the sounds of cicadas and whippoorwills and tree frogs, the sounds of my childhood, of hot summer nights sleeping in a tent under the stars. A little boy haunted by a story of a donkey turned to stone. How does the donkey eat? he wonders. And laments. My head resting near his, his hand tightly gripping mine, my body curled around his in a half cocoon. He can feel me nodding, hear me murmuring. A parade of events I might rather have not experienced passes suddenly before me, uninvited. Ghosts. I want to get up, leave the bed, as if a physical leaving could ease the discomfort. How long will I be here? And then. I know. As long as I need to be. My hand on his chest, rising and falling to the rhythm of his breath until that is all there is.
For all I know, I don’t know. For everything scratched and worn and discarded, something of magic and mystery and beauty. For everything mundane, a miracle. It is all here. Wonder, awe, majesty. Spaciousness, connection, joy. Everything. Waiting for me to see.