"If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle." (Vincent Van Gogh)
The closest that I have ever been to the miracle of life was when my cat back home gave birth to her two kittens. I was there when they came out, I cut the cord, as no one volunteered, and I tried to teach Dolly, my cat, about taking care of them, now that she was a mommy. Looking at the new born kittens, just fur balls of slime and squiggly life, with no eyes and definitely no direction of where to from here, I was numb, in an eerie mixture of grossness and wonder. I was resolute, and shaky, and numb! It was one of those moments when you knew: there must be some Force, out there, that just … sustains all this that moves, and becomes, and … happens. Some Force that gives life strength, and direction, and passing.
A very young me, with Dolly's kittens, once they grew eyes.
I am almost always visited by the same feeling every time I see my nephew reach a milestone. As you all remember, he was a preemie, by many, many, too many weeks. He was so weak, he could not breathe on his own. They had machines pulling his chest back up off of his spine, because his lungs and sternum and rib cage were not strong enough to push them back out.
He didn’t know how to suck on a bottle, or how to swallow, and he fed through tubes for weeks. He had rosy cheeks though, a firm grasp, and a determined look in his eyes, of “I’ll show you!”. He had so much hope! And we did too.
And show us he did! I have so much love and respect for his parents, and for their patience with him! He’s eight months old and all but completely caught up with everyone his age! He is over 16 lbs, sits up, rolls over, demands things, and loves pushing buttons. Both literally and figuratively! And says “ma-ma”. And this last video just made me cry with joy, pride and so much love, when watching him eating a cracker!
How could it not have done that, when you know that this nothing but a bundle of life, nerves and blood vessels came into this world without being able to swallow to eat on his own, and breathe to stay alive, and the infinite love and patience of good parents, and his own will and strength and survival instinct, and that magic "Force" that governs us all, pushed him all the way to a booster chair, a sippy cup and a cracker?! Somehow, he's learned that he has to bite, and chew, and swallow. How? From where? … You are just stunned with wonder, awe, and gratefulness.
I know you think it’s silly to be happy about some baby eating a cracker, but … Patrick’s new milestone also makes me be so thankful that he is just so seemingly perfect! It makes me so thankful for all the little things we forget to be thankful for, and which we take for granted every day: to all the babies out there, born not of their choosing into this world, who might not ever know the simple things of sitting up on their own, or eating on their own, or talking, or smiling, or ever feeding on milk or crackers … my heart goes out. Babies who will not be aware that the sky is blue, and the grass green and soft in the summer, but coarse and yellow in the fall, and that puppies and kittens are cute creatures.
Babies that were, maybe, born too early, or not … quite “done” yet, and that would not know the booster chair and the sippy cup. I am grateful for what was just given to us when some people learn to have it the hard way, or never enjoy it. I am once again, speechless.
And Patrick is grateful too – he just doesn’t know how to say it yet!
Note: and I thank my friend A., for the headline.