Saturday, March 3, 2012


The wind! It sounds like the wave pool!

She never heard the ocean but she has the comparison right. These gusts are rolling over us like waves of surf. Pushing against our senses again and again, the work of unseen currents.

Her hair sticks out of her hat and her face turns up to the grey sky and I push the swing away and wait for it to come back again and again and again and again.


I'm not really interested in birthing again, I tell my mother with a laugh, partly joking, partly not. I've done this before. I know what it is:

Beautiful. Empowering. Life changing. Surreal. Primal. But also terrifying and terrible, those crescendos of pain that tear a body in two. I haven't forgotten.

Did I ever tell you what my mother said the day I was born? She has, but I let her tell me again. Because I like the story. And hearing her tell of it.

It had been nine years since my sister was born. When my mother was in labor with me and they pulled up to the hospital, she asked my father, "Can we just drive around the block one more time?" She wasn't ready to go in. 

I think I know exactly how she felt.


I'm in the shower. The sound of the steaming water and the air-circulating fan cocoon me in a space of loud silence. I tweak the temperature -- just a little hotter -- and tell myself one more minute. But then I hear a sound. Sharp. Urgent. Loud over the white noise. I turn off the water and stand still, dripping. I towel up, step out, and flick off the fan.


But it's nothing. They're just laughing. Screams of glee that sound just a degree away from cries of pain.

I turn on the hair dryer.


My eyes are closing, pen in hand, blank page still blank. But a crack sends sparks of adrenaline down my spine. Thunder always startles me. And it affects me even more so now, knowing that at least one of three sets of eyes have likely been shocked open. They're all scared of storms in the night.

But it's March. It's snowing. The crack was just the snow plow's blade greeting the pavement. The rumble just metal dragging on rock, up one side of the street and down the other. The sound fades as the truck moves to another street. No one wakes up.


And so, ready or not, my mother was born. Unconscious of the agony her crossing over caused, blinded for a moment by the lights of this new world, already wrapped up in love as warm as the womb.

Years and years went by. My mother grew up. My grandmother grew old.

When she came to the end of things,  I know my mother would have given anything to drive just once more around the block with the woman who carried her, who birthed her. But when my grandmother breathed her last breath, I like to imagine that she rode out of this world on the same waves that washed my mother ashore. Yes, there was agony -- not for her but for the souls she left behind. But then there was the brightness of a new existence. And love swaddling her tight with all the warmth she had ever, ever known. Imprinting it upon her. To take along.