Friday, June 22, 2012

The Little Boy Turns Eighteen


Eighteen years ago. I held you and had a spiritual experience. A storm front rode though the white, sterile hospital room as clearly as if I could reach out and thrust my hand through the thick condensation, breath the cold, wind whipped air. At nineteen, only one year older than you are now, I had been the in the perfect state for complete transformation: changed, but not blossomed, clear but lost, hopeful but terrified, seeking but unfindingunfindingunfinding: then: standing in front of full length mirror with your Aunt Lura and your Grandma Mary- only in her mid-forties then, with long wild red hair- I said this: My breasts look funny. Purple. Hm. Grandma Mary turned to me from the closet, pulling on a sweater, and said Oh Maggie, could you be pregnant? And like so many times in my life, I Knew. I knew at that moment, as I shook my head 'no', then corrected with words ' Well Maybe... ' that I was pregnant, and then, to my astonishment, I knew that it was the best thing that could happen to me; I was briefly  overwhelmed with terror, which I quickly recognized as obligatory, and then suffused with joy. 

I think you will find that this is not the reaction of most 19 year old girls who find they are pregnant while they are unmarried, jobless, living with their mother and sister in a one bedroom apartment and recently broken up with the father. I'm not most girls.

At 20 I lay in Pomerado Hospital in complete bliss, the state I was the entire last few months of my pregnancy, again, the opposite of what you would expect. The last few months normally being a puffy, water retaining, back hurting, sleepless and anxiety producing time of constant peeing and random pains. I felt wonderful. I never have felt so completely calm and joyful at the same time, so excited about the future. I did not have dreams of college at that time, those would come later, any dreams of mine, but your life given to me, your spirit placed with me, was the gift that woke me up from a long, dreamless sleep. As soon as I held you in my arms I felt as they say Fathers often feel about their baby girls: I was taken, completely, you owned me. I knew I was yours completely and that my love for you was limitless. At that moment I felt God. Throughout my life I have been spiritual and then agnostic and so forth, switching around like a lost lamb. I will never fail to report what the truth of my experience is, and while you were being born, and afterward, I clearly felt the presence of something else with us. It felt like this:

When you are out in the wilderness all alone underneath trees, and it is dark. The full moon is out and you feel a cold breeze across your face, in your ear, through your hair, and your cheeks hurt. You are waiting for something wonderful but it is not there. The sky is purple and black and stars are shot through like pinpricks of diamonds. The trees are singing in their tops, murmuring to the sky, swishing. An owl flies over and then nearby and then to your astonishment, lands on a treebranch directly in front of your face. He is two feet away but you can barely see him but his eyes, the enormous saucer yellow eyes of an owl. He hoots at you and stares at you solemnly. The wind blows. The trees murmur. You begin to cry, and the owl hoots again softly, dips his head, and flies away.

When you were born I felt the great owl and the night and the air and the presence of those enormous eyes on me. I felt that the entire cosmos was celebrating your birth, and I thought that if I were deeply religious I would think ' This is how it felt when Jesus was born ' and then I thought that not being deeply religious I was still having that same thought. And then I knew that this is how the world rejoices every time a baby is born. Although the faces around a particular birth may not reflect it, it is there. 

I think back to that day often, and how the feeling that I had did not disappear immediately, as I feared it would, but took years to fade. I was graced, graced with the gift of that emotion, because it protected you from the worst of me, parts of me that were so damaged that I needed, and got, intensive therapy for the first four years of your life. Without that overwhelming, spiritually ecstatic love that I felt every waking moment the first long length your life, the demons that I carried would have hurt you. That was my own personal idea of hell, that I would brand my children with my own pain. If I have ever received divine intervention, that was it. 

It seems impossible for me to tell the story of you without talking so much about me. Your birth and  your life has tremendous meaning. Not only did it save my spirit, it also has graced your brothers and sisters with a mother more healed and more stable than I would have been able to give them were I not forced to grow so quickly to better parent you. Your spirit reflects the enormity, the meaning of your birth as well as it's endless joy. 

You are beautiful.  The very essence of life and it's joy and possibility radiates from your wide, crinkling blue eyes and smile. Young manhood carries you like a sword, sharp and sarcastic and intelligent and brash, bold and arrogant but deeply felt and considered. The lyrics you write for your music reflect not only your wit and intellect but the depth of your reflection on life. Your laugh is one of the most cheerful, energizing things in my world. Your very walk is one of young life- long brown arms swinging, so often laughing, smiling, swimming, skating, running, playing bass, moving like the  young do move. You meet each person you greet eye to eye, as I always taught you to. Hold your head up, son, I'd tell you over and over, and look people in the eye. Smile, because it lets them knowyou mean no harm. To this day you meet people head up, smile open, eye to eye. You honor character, courage, loyalty, integrity. Last week you found a wallet and waited with it in hand until the old lady in our complex came back, frazzled and upset, and found you standing with it open palm. 

Your friends are made fast, as if you were still five. You make friends with babies to old people, police officers- like the one you met and ate lunch with on the East Coast this summer- and hoodlums, gang bangers and business men. You talk to hobos and learn their life stories. Your favorite books when you were little were Calvin and Hobbes, the enormous comic collections that you read so often they are brown and worn to scraps. I read them to you so often I know all the stories. You love music, girls, your family, your friends, bass guitar, writing lyrics, skating, people, Hawaii, San Diego and plan to get a San Diego tattoo on your back soon. You discern character quickly, something I like to think you inherited from me.  You are very funny, something I know you inherited from your dad. You are cautious but brave. You were afraid to bungee jump but did anyway. You were afraid to stay overnight with Grandma in L.A. when you were a little boy but told me tearfully on the phone, I know I'm never really away from you, Mommy. But I miss you anyway. You are interested in every person you meet, a fabulous quality. You love and dote on your little sisters and are comrades with your brother. You are at times volatile but like a man does, you are learning to restrain. You mostly hold back when I see you want to bark at me. You are growing up. You are grown up. Oh....

my sweet boy.

I could type a thousand and five words on this page and all would just be representations of the same
three words:

I love you
I love you
I love you

You are eighteen June 22, 2012. You are going to have a wonderful, love filled, interesting life done your own unique way.

Always and Forever,


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