a nighttime story

As I put my son to bed, I lie on my side, and he lies next to me on his belly.  I rub his back, tiny gentle circles on either side of his spine.  If my hand stops, he quietly asks, “more?”  So I resume my tiny circles until his breath slows, his fidgeting stops.  Then his weight shifts and he turns onto his side, resting his back against my belly.  His little hand reaches back and finds mine, and he drapes my hand across his belly.  I hold it there, still, as his breathing falls into the same rhythm as mine, our chests rising and falling together.

And in an instant, I am taken back in time to when I was pregnant with him, lying on my side in bed, my hand draped across my burgeoning belly, feeling our bodies connected, our beings so delicately intertwined.  I recall both the excitement and the gratitude I felt for holding him within me, feeling him grow, nurturing him (and me) with healthy food and rest and loving care.

Coming back to the present, I feel him again, the back of his soft warm head nestled against my breastbone.  Our shared breath seems at once like a wave, a tandem rise and fall, and then I remember: we are the ocean, not the wave.  He and I, and all together.

I slip out of his bed, silently, draping the covers over his shoulders, tenderly kissing the top of his head.  Tiptoeing down the stairs, I re-enter the world, pick up my phone, glimpse briefly at the headlines, and sigh.  Fire, terror, finger-pointing, name-calling, gunshots.  Right now it’s easy to forget that sense of connection that binds us all together.   Reading the news, it’s hard not to feel a keen sense of separateness from others.  We’re divided into so many fractious factions, and the reality that we all share this space together, exist in this singular ocean of existence, spinning around our corner of the galaxy on the very same watery sphere, is easy to forget.

So please, if you will:  Remember.  We’re all in this together.  What affects me affects you.  What ails you ails me.  And what lifts one of us up, lifts all of us up.

Lifting you up, sending you love from afar.

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