I sit in the silence watching squirrels dart to and fro, their fingers full of peanuts. The wind blows a solitary shirt on the washing line. The cushion rests on the floor where I threw it, unable to get comfortable on the couch.
Unable to get comfortable in me.
I think back to a young woman who thought children a burden, her own life having been treated as such. She seems so far away now and yet I long to reach out to her, to tell her this truth - there is no greater blessing than to have a child turn to you. In tears. In joy. In doubt. In fear. In peace. In pain. Those eyes that look at you and see you whole, perfect, able to help, able to love.
In that look you are no less than a piece of God, no less than all the wonder of the Universe turned to flesh, no less than enough.
And what a gift that is. To be seen without the judgements of adulthood. To be held with the trust of a baby. To be longed for despite your scars, your past.
She looks back at me, that young woman, and I see her confusion, her pain. I see her tears at being unwanted, unseen. She dare not visit that on another. And yet she will. She will walk in pain too many days. She will fall oh so in love with nearly everyone she meets, unable to distinguish between her own hopefulness and the beautiful presence of others. She will not have a child for many, many years. She will cry, a lot. She will wait. And wait. And wait.
And one day, when the waiting is done with, she will leave the man she loves, she will leave the life she built, she will say goodbye to her history. It will not make things perfect. It will not save her. It will not find her the happiness her dreams promised. But it will bring her one reward, in time. A child.
She smiles at me, that woman. Confused. Doubtful. Her hands full of books, her dancing shoes on, her eyes shadowed by memories and possible futures. I reach out to her and all I can say is "You should have, you should have, you should have..." But she cannot. She did not. She does not know what I know, what we have gambled with, what we have lost before we knew we had it.
She looks at me as I accuse her, and she is blameless. Innocent. Startled at my pleading. Hurt.
Oh how she hurts. Just a child in a woman's body. A baby in my arms. How she hurts, how she hurts, how she hurts.
I take her up. I hold her close. For the love of her. For the love of me. For the child she was. For the children she never had. For the women who do not know what I know. For the world that turns, unconcerned...
For my daughter.
She smiles at me. In trust, in faith, in hope. Oh, the wonder of her. The smallness of her. The brevity of her life. The distance and nearness. The sameness and otherness. The lightness of her. The brightness of her. The shining life of her.
I breathe her in. Her misplaced love, her unrewarded optimism, her gratitude that I came.
And then I realise... Of course I came. How could I not? Someone had to rescue you, someone had to, someone had to...
I just didn't know that it had to be me.
She smiles widely. Oh that smile. Men have caught their lives on that smile. She nods, knowingly. I smile too. We laugh... and cry... and laugh again...
Her breath reaches mine. Her breath and mine. Our breath. My breath...
The day stays grey. The shirt still sways with the wind. The absence of my daughter remains obvious from the silence in the house...
A stillness comes.