don’t forget

last night i held a woman’s hands in my own as she birthed her sixth child into this wild world. she was strong and nearly silent until i asked if she wanted to touch her son’s head. “yes!” she cried. “yes i do.” as her milky hand parted the water and found his dark curls, a lump caught in my throat. one more soft, directed groan and i marveled at life’s unrelenting tempo.

it’s always this way. when a dear friend dies. when your house burns down. it doesn’t matter how your heart aches. how you wish time. would just. stop. at least long enough for you to catch your breath. babies must be born. promises made. newspapers delivered. and all you can do is fight. “rage against the dying of the light” and beg yourself to notice. beg yourself to notice the way your husband’s eyes rest on yours a little longer than before. the way a mother looks at her hour old child. beg yourself to notice the lone grasshopper in a field of ash or a crow perched high in a ghost white oak. beg yourself to notice the way the fruitless mulberries filter sunlight in the fall, how your head hits the pillow a little wiser, how people long to help.

after the boy with the dark curls took his first breath and the rush of new life swept over everyone in the room. after passing warm blankets and watching his mother kiss him from brow to fingertips, the baby’s father beamed from the corner of the room. his children cheered from the phone in his hand and as he passed by me into the hall i heard him whisper to them, “don’t forget to thank god.”


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