Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Words

He's a kid with problems.

Ewan didn't come out that way.  He was the 8 pound 10 ounce picture of health and vigor.  The kid suckled with exuberance and put on exactly three pounds and six ounces before his body quit figuring out what to do with mother's milk.  For five months his insides failed to pull from my milk whatever it needed to add to his flesh.





And then 10 ounces disappeared.  Poof.  The boy was beginning to vanish and the doctors began to materialize in concerned haste.

They say when a baby is starving - without using the word starving - that the brain quits doing anything but surviving.  So, while his sweet cousin, baby Ava was figuring out how to sit up, Ewan was laying quietly on his back working with all his might just to 'be.'  When cousin Davy was learning to respond to his parents singing "Popcorn Popping", Ewan was burning whatever calories there were to keep his insides functioning.  When his new little friend Penny was crawling throughout our house begging to climb up our stairs Ewan was lying on his stomach pulling with all his might to scoot himself forward just a few inches.

The kid is late to the party.

But it's ok.  He's had some "developmental delays" in gross and fine motor skills as well as speech.  He is now receiving free, in-home therapy for both.  And while one might think, how could a 14-month-old possibly need speech therapy, I have been amazed what kinds of things I can do to help develop communication.

Despite all this, Ewan loves life. He is happy.  There is nothing he likes more than going outside to feel the earth around him.

Which is where his first words came from.
We developed a routine that went like this:
go outside (day or night),
point at everything and say "Oh Wow."

Oh Wow.

This is the first thing he has to say about the world he lives in. His first words.

Bird - oh wow!  Wind in the leaves - oh wow!  Baby kitten on our porch - oh wow!  Squirrels scrambling up the tree - oh wow!  Lights that turn on and off - oh wow!

He's right.  There is a whole lot of 'Oh Wow' everywhere I look.  I see it so often that it loses its wow-ness in my lack of perspective.

Oh to live life in awe.

There is elegance in my chaos.  I can stretch my pointer finger out like Ewan does and touch beauty.  Oh Wow.  Not just in the goodness of my life and family.  It is in everything.  I don't know anything about String Theory Physics, but I think it merits my respect.  The recipe of a Virginia forest.  The art of collecting a string of characters together on a  page until your eyes see them as the words your mouth speaks.  To read.  To speak.  To put your fingertips on the keys of a piano and dance.  To extract from a swab of my cheek the deoxyribonucleic code that is the essence of me.  Oh Wow.

Some people do great things because they know how to touch the oh-wow-ness of life.

I read recently that while Steve Jobs was battling through the very end of this life his last words were "Oh wow."  A requiem true to the zeitgeist of his Jobs-onian existence.  No demi-god, but a man who sought elegance, and lived in the realization of ideas.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  From womb to grave it is 'oh wow.'

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Someone Who Needs Somewhere

". . . . a song for
        someone who needs somewhere
        to long for . . . ."

If there were ever a light cast across a piece of earth more beautiful than the one on this particular June evening in a little corner of New York state, I have never seen it.

This light came with restoration to our weary souls.
Did we leave our friends without proper goodbyes?
Did we drop tears onto the skinny face of a sick baby?
Did we feel homeless before we ever left home?
Did we drive 2000 miles?

We could answer "yes" honestly, but the whole truth of it would be lost somewhere in the bleakness of the question.

We have friends, we have a baby, we have a home, we are together!
Yes, these patch up the spaces that felt empty in the question.

As lake Ontario laps soothingly at our feet and the sun throws warm, low light across our faces we begin to be happy.

We trust,

In all of it, I see two things.

I see where my Dad is not.  He is not sitting on the bench next to my Mom, with a book in his hand, or a laptop on his lap, or his hand resting softly at the nape of her neck.

I see children who build.  I think Jonah told me they were elves making a shelter because he became ill.     Nowhere to live?  Nowhere to rest when your body is spent?  They pull from the unmade space as we do in time of need.  Here a stone, there a stick, a piece of driftwood drug from the water.  All buttressed against a small rise of earth.  The whole thing a bulwark of youthful ingenuity that protects against element and distress.

It is the blueprint to the weeks ahead.