Love and beauty. Two of the world’s most powerful forces. They transcend our understanding and cause us to use up all of our comprehendible words, still feeling as if we have yet to have said enough.
Love and beauty possess the cunning ability to stop anyone in their tracks, to unexpectedly grip even the hardest of hearts and shift the most steady of gazes. They rouse something deep inside, causing even the sleepiest of souls to come to life.
Yet, when I stand on an ocean’s shore, I know the waves’ steady coming and going could very well develop into mighty, destructive thrashes as the sea meets the sand. And this image reminds me that love, life and all things beautiful are simply not predictable. They are not safe.
The love I have for my son, for example, is the most dangerous thing I have ever known. It is unable to be kept under control, a fire I cannot contain.
If I stare at my baby for more than a moment, I find that my heart begins to ache. “To love someone so much it hurts,” is a concept I don’t think I quite understood before becoming a mother.
More than once, unthinkable situations have flashed before my eyes as my son has coughed and choked on his food, or when a car has swerved a little too close to our lane. I result in simply stating that I have absolutely no idea what I would do if something were to happen to my little one – and I never want to have to find out.
The beautiful moments in which my son drifts off to sleep while I hold him in my arms make my heart grow to feel softer than his warm, silky skin. And in this vulnerable state, I know that the fierce love I carry has the potential to destroy me.
Yet, I do not shy away.
I welcome the love that makes me feel most alive and full of purpose with open arms, despite knowing it is the very thing that could cause me more sorrow than anything in the world.
For birthing life goes along with pain that sings of death, yet when its song has been sung and the new morning comes, not one can remember the tune.
As I caught the first glimpse of my helpless newborn, my heart longed to keep him just as protected as he was in my womb. My priorities shifted and “keep him alive” instantly made its way to the top of my list. The energy required for this seemingly simple task has doubled now that my six-month-old is putting everything in his mouth and crawling all over the place. And now, yet another task has presented itself – one being no less important than the first: Let him live.
As a result, Ellis has acquired a bump or two on his head while getting acquainted with our dining room table as he was exploring his surroundings. That seems pretty harmless when I think of the way my husband and I both held our breath as we retrieved a fork Ellis had gotten his hands on when we were out to eat a few nights ago – a little too late, as he had just lightly grazed his closed eye with it.
And so a tightrope walk has commenced: Keep him alive, yet let him live.
I must admit, I would be slightly tempted to put him in a bubble where nothing could happen to him if I could, as it would put my mind to rest and relieve me of the full-time tension that goes hand in hand with being the one responsible for another’s life. He is completely dependent on me to protect him, yet also needs me to allow him to be free to roam and discover the world around him.
I am constantly reminded of the fact that life is so fragile when I hear stories of unexpected tragedy – even from people close to me. Just the same, I am amazed at the resilience in my baby’s bones when I prepare to console him as he topples over from his sitting position, only for him to greet me with a smile from his rug-burned face.
So I have come to the conclusion that my son should not merely feel the breath of life in his lungs, he should be consumed by its power as it roars through his being. He should climb the highest mountains, never looking down. He should set sail out to the ocean, and navigate the storms.
The price of truly living is most costly. But in return, life itself is gained. So for the love of beauty, I’ll do my best to guide you, but let your journey be your own.