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Funny Thing Called Life Pt. 2
The knot in the center of my chest loosens, and my body falls limp in her arms as she draws me closer to her, knighting my forehead with those fairest of lips. There is a birth here, too, hanging in this instant, where massive miracles of possible impossibilities are conceived by the tiniest actions – the result being the purest, most random act of nature, a true “big-bang” of fractal intensity, and beauty at its most breathtaking. Oh, the flutter of breath against my feverish head is silk upon my skin, her touch liquefying my heart. She sings a song that hangs upon the comparatively rough air, and all at once makes me cry out in a fit of joyous ecstasy, Hallelujah! My soul is strengthened and revived by this woman, and I would die and suffer the terrors of birth time and time again if it would only mean coming back and sharing this single moment with my mother, the angel in whose arms I rock, from whose passion I was created, and from whose company I know I will never, ever leave. This is my mother, and I am her son, and no force on earth could break me from her side.
The second figure, whom I’ve decided to call father, encroaches on the edge of my vision, leaning into my mother so that they conjoin precisely at the shoulder and the sides of their heads. At first I am inclined to shrink away from him, but there is something so startling about the pure openness of his demeanor and the goodness that plays around his twinkling brown eyes like light reflecting off water – not liking him proves to be an impossible task. He runs a hand through the black tendrils that scrabble at his thick black eyebrows, scratches the course black barbs that sprout from his chin and cheeks, and then he smiles a brilliant smile, creating a ripple that seems to spread across his face and out into the open air. Its flight is magnificent, and I swear I can almost hear the beating of its wings. Bringing the backs of two enormous fingers to my flushed cheek, he begins to gently stroke it. Both mother and father smile down at me, the three of us connected in a mutual embrace.
A strange sort of warmth, both familiar and yet so overpowering that I couldn’t possibly ever grasp its meaning, begins to well up inside my chest. It is more than hunger, that much I know, but still – some sustenance would be nice right about now. Still pondering that odd sensation, I burrow my face into my mother’s chest.
As the room is filled with soft breathing and the sound of my reflective slurping, mother turns to father and asks, “Where’s Zoey?”
“I left her with Mom in the waiting room. She was getting sleepy, so I just let her…”
Just then another creak resounds off the white-washed walls, and the sound of smaller feet treading the linoleum joins it.
“Mommy, Daddy…” says a tiny, if not groggy, voice. “Is he here yet?”
“Yeah, would you like to see him?” Mother replies in a sweet, maternal voice.
“Yeah!” says the tiny voice, higher and livelier now. Suddenly a glowering face pops up before me, and at this point this unexpected appearance does not even phase me. I am, however, fascinated by how much this girl looks like a miniature version of my mother. Her hair is shorter, and a slightly darker shade of red, more like river mud rather than copper. The skin on her face is tighter and a bit more luminescent, almost bursting with life and vibrancy, and her deep, penetrating eyes contain valleys and oceans – universes, even – of unexplored, unparalleled territory. For somewhere in the neighborhood of two minutes, we stare each other down, her mouth growing into an elegant little smile, and my eyes following suit, as if mesmerized.
She is the first to break the silence: “Hi there! I’m Zoey, and I’m your big sister. You don’t have to be scared, ‘cause I’m here to protect you. That’s what big sisters do for baby brothers – that’s you, by the way. And I promise to be the best sister ever. We’ll play in the sandbox, and I can teach you to swing. We can share mommy’s brownies, and ride bikes, and you can meet my friends, but if June McHale tries to pick on you, I’ll beat her up. And – oh! I almost forgot about Bella.”
Reaching behind her, she pulled out a rather large (or large in comparison to my ten-inch long, six pound frame) floppy creature covered in pastel-pink down and with huge ears draped over its adorable face.
I was enthralled by its cuteness. Above me, mother and father trembled and sang with laughter.
Zoey – my big sister Zoey, I think – continues the rushed litany of sounds-forming-ideas that she calls talking (but what I call noise). “This is Bella Bunny. She was my first toy and my best friend, because I didn’t have a big sister to take care of me. But I also told Mommy and Daddy to get you one, too!”
Revealing what she’d been hiding in her other hand, she lifts up a similar creature, although this one has shorter, broader ears, a wider snout, and sky-blue fur. My mouth drops and immediately my arms shoot out towards it.
“Yeah, he’s cute. His name is Dimple Dog.”
“And he’s all yours.”
“Do you like him?”
“Then here you go!” She hands Dimple to me, which I grab greedily and hold close to my body. She leans down and kisses me on the cheek. “I love you, baby brother.”
I can tell this girl is on my side. I anticipate much mischief is to be made with her in the future, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The warmth announces itself within me again, bigger and brighter than ever. I look up at the faces of my family, wondering if there is some sort of explanation hidden amongst them. My eyes pass from the glow of Zoey’s radiant air, to the whispering gentleness of my mother’s eyes, and finally landing on my father’s resilient smile. And the word comes to me, quick and strong, like the operatic clap of thunder that echoes through onyx, illuminating the world for that one moment in time when everything is blanketed in liquid crystal: the word is love.
I inspect my dimpled fingers, my rolled arms, my rounded belly; I smack my lips, the taste of warm milk still lingering; I nuzzle against my mother’s strong heart, sigh beneath my father’s gentle touch, and glow before the gaze of that valiant being called sister. These things are all realities, able to touch and be touched, and yet they are not. How can I describe to you the feelings that deluged my senses my first few moments on earth? How can I convey that stark transition from bleakness and despair to this singular moment of faith – faith that something out there exists and is looking down on me, right now, even as I feel these emotions and think these thoughts, saying to itself, “Well now, isn’t he just something? Well wasn’t he worth the work, after all?”
I am young. This world still has yet to try its hand at destroying my resolve and turning me into another empty shell of a man, doomed to haunt the earth in a purposeless existence. And do you know what I say in response? Bring it on. For it is through adversity that we are made strong, through fear we are made fearless, and hatred that we are made to love, to be loved, and to create love in return. As I lie here in my mother’s arms, in a sterile hospital room, my father above me, my sister before me, I know that that tangible-intangible being called Love exists in the most unexpected corners of this new, remarkable world I’ve been thrown into. The question is, how can we find such a heaven in this man-made hell?
I say only this: The “goodness” of a life is not measured in numerous accomplishments, but rather in the single accomplishment of finding good in the everyday world. The meaning of life lies within us, our ability to act with love in the face of everything that tells us to do just the opposite. That’s all there is to it. If you think that’s strange and impossible and altogether out of your flawed human abilities, well then you’re wrong. The mere fact that you’re here, right now, living and breathing, consisting of pure durability, is a miracle in and of itself. So there you have it – you’re created, so create something in return, and, all the while never, ever forget to take a moment to stop, and fall in love with this funny thing called life.