One year ago today, J and I got to see a person enter the world. She was born healthy and strong, but the moment I saw her I felt overwhelmed by what it is to love: by how fragile life is, by how much risk we take merely by loving one another. That little girl turned one today, and she is doing so great. Her mamas – one of whom faced a terrifying health crisis during the time of her daughter’s birth – are doing great too, as is their older son. They are (mostly, I think) on the other side of lots of pain. On the other side of fear and things.aren’t.supposed.to.be.this.way. I’ve been proud to know them all, to watch them in their strength. One of them reflected on this past year here. There are things I’ll never know about what they faced, but I know it was a life-changing struggle, and it’s a joy to see them here.
The anniversary of that perfect baby’s birth has made me think a lot about the person I was a year ago. The girl who knew nothing of the year ahead of her. Who was yet to know the joy of conceiving a daughter with the love of her life. Who was yet to face the terror of everything.is.not.okay. Who didn’t know the sadness of no.more.hope. I still miss E every single day. But I didn’t know the joy of this.new.baby either. I didn’t know the fear of loving again. The useless caution. That love is strong enough not to care how scared you are. It’s hard to remember being that girl. It’s too soon to understand how much I’ve changed, but I sense it.
Anyway, one year ago today, I learned a lot about community. And what I love most about what I’ve learned – in terms of both local community and this space – is that whether you’re in the midst of a crisis or the high point of joy, you’re surrounded by people who are somewhere else, but who know what it is to be where you are, or who are learning from you so that if they get there one day, they will have some idea of what it might look like, of how they might get through. This week, I’ve been especially aware of this.
I’ve felt connected to the family I discuss above.
And at the same time, I’ve celebrated with Yogi’s moms, whose second parent adoption came through this week. As I walk through the sadness and fear of knowing that, when Rabbit River is born, I’ll have no legal rights, I can imagine the joy of that changing. Of seeing my name on my child’s birth certificate. It’s ironic that by being denied something – by having to fight for it – we’re given the chance to know how sacred it is. We’re given the gift of awareness, of gratitude.
And at the same time, I’ve begun to worry with this family, who – after years of trying to conceive, and after finally being blessed with a child – are now facing the small (but nevertheless terrifying) possibility that their child might have difficulties. They’ve already been through so much. They deserve an easy path. But deserving seems to have little to do with the universe and its unfathomable will. My sense is that this family – and especially this tiny, new being – will be good, and healthy, and happy. I’m sad for them, though, as they walk (once more) through fear.
Maybe it’s the complexity, the duality, of this year – feeling the biggest joys and the biggest sorrows in such quick succession – but it’s of comfort to me that it all happens at once. That in our darkest moments – at those exact moments – other beings are experiencing unrivaled joy. It softens the hard parts to know that. And it makes the sweet parts unimaginably great.