About a year ago I wrote In Terms of Pain while in bed recovering from a head-on collision. It's on my mind because something crazy miraculous happened on the anniversary of my accident...
This is Ben.
On June 16, 2011, a car accident jolted my world, shifted my paradigm, brought me face to face with mine and my family's mortality, and refocused my priorities.
Six days ago, June 16, 2012, Ben came into my arms, all waxy and newbornish, and brought me face to face with... pure gratitude.
I'm a writer because life is beautiful and painful and unexpected and I can't let the beautiful, painful, unexpected moments pass without celebrating, or honoring, them. In my fiction, I try to make up lovely symmetries that move people, like the incredible bursts of light that happen after we suffer through darkness, or the heroic sacrifice of one life that makes possible the birth of another.
But the truth is that these bits of balance and symmetry only move people because they are rooted in the human experience. We've all experienced these symmetries, or you might say coincidences, that are just too perfect not to notice. They make us stop what we're doing and see, really see, the world around us -- sometimes for the first time, sometimes after a long time.
So what do I see when I look at these two life-altering events dated coincidentally a year apart?
One whole year of LIFE.
365 reasons to be thankful. (Don't worry, I'm not going to list them all. :)
I only want to share this one moment with you:
My mind settles slowly back into my body. With the final fury of instinct past, I'm completely blank, like an angel has pressed my restart button. Donna tells me, "Look at your baby, Katrina. He's looking at you."
And I remember where I am - what I've just done.
I look down at the baby in my arms. Here's Ben. He's absolutely perfect, I'm convinced of it. I can't look away. His tiny dark eyes watch me in the dim morning light. I take his long fingers and wrap them around my finger. Then he lets out a cry. Just one, like he's testing it out. We go back to inspecting each other. I've given birth twice already, but I've never had this moment before. It's monumental, this sudden and unexpected calm. I could stay in the water forever, just touching his silk cheeks, watching him breathe. "What do you think?" my husband asks. "Does he look like a Benjamin?"
"Oh, yeah," I say, coming back to the world around me. "Yeah, he does."
Ben starts to cry again, and all I want to do is hold him close, kiss his face, and teach him to smile.