The first of April is noted by the birthday of my son. Eighteen years ago on this day I was in downtown Chicago, living in the basement of my parents’ new town house. They had just moved from New York. I had just come up from Santa Fe where I had been working at the frame shop until my mid section deemed too big to belly up to the work bench. I had been surrounded by a sea of men looking at the skinny thing that I was with the expanding stomach as if there was something alive in there besides my growing baby. Zero comprehension, but a few attempts at compassion. I appreciated that, but it was not enough. I was tired of being alone. There, then, alone was lonely. A month before birthing, I showed up at my parent’s brand new doorstep in a city where I had never been.
There I was in this old rusted black car with a big crack covering the windshield which made it hard to see when you were driving into the sun or headlights, and these brakes that worked in a way that required you to drive barefoot because every time you pushed down they would stick and you had to get your toes underneath to pull the petal back out. The back seat was torn out to make room for my two dogs and everything I owned at the time, which although it was only what could fit in the little car, seemed like plenty, perhaps too much, as I drove pushed back so far away from the steering wheel, almost fifteen hundred miles in three days, pulling over in rest stops to climb on top of the platform of cardboard boxes and take a rest with my dogs, and all too often, quick stops for a quick relief from the growing pressure on my bladder.
The morning of the first of April. The softest blanket of snow was settling on the tiny box of a yard outside the basement window. I would look out there at the gentling world, lawn furniture covering in white, and forget I was in Chicago. It was one of the most peaceful sights I had seen or felt, though I imagine that may have been the hormones doing their part. There I was, just standing, staring, watching the snowflakes fall.
The cable guy was getting my parents set up with that all important television connection in their new home. I calmly walked into the room where my mother was and informing her that my water broke. The cable guy was kneeling down working on some wires poking out of the wall. He stood up fast when he heard me. You could tell he had been there before. His eyes got huge, his mouth dropped open, and he left the job undone. Said he’d be back another day.
So Forrest started his life in Chicago, born into my own arms and held tight from the moment of his very first breath upon my chest, lying there on a big bed in a birthing center with a midwife I had never met at the foot, and both my parents there beside me. Despite their having had four children, neither had witnessed a birth before.
After the midwife and family and visitors left, I lay on that bed that night, my baby and I, in such silence with a warm yellow light from the bedside table and the breathing of his little lungs against mine. For the first time I crossed the great rift between lonely and alone.
I look at my mares when they birth their foals and see the softness in their half closed eyes, listen to the gentlest of nickering as they turn to nuzzle their newborn, and understand just how they feel, knowing everything in their life is right, everything has meaning, and that meaning is tied up into this one tiny helpless hungry bundle.
Since then I have always loved snow on the first of April. Big fat fluffy flakes that cover the world as we know it, soften my view, and soothe my mind as sweet as any lullaby.
My life has never been the same, never been better, since that one snowy day.
Posted by: highmountainmuse