Hug your babies tighter, today, we got a letter that said.
But who is hugging her babies? I'm sure there are plenty of arms. I'm sure the arms are warm, having been full of baking dishes and condolences. I'm sure those babies have never been so surrounded and hugged so tightly.
I wonder what it's like to be a boy in the world and you're turning ten today and your mom is dead. She died last week, but your birthday still came. Do people tell you Happy Birthday! and clap as you blow out your candles? Are there balloons? What does it feel like to have been alive for ten years, and now you're a boy who doesn't have a mother? You must feel very strong and very scared.
My girl slept at Grammy's last night. I love the thought of her, with her suitcase full of "guys" and a set of soft pajamas. Grammy lives in an old apartment building in the city and I know that it feels like a new life, when she spends the night. My little city bug, she is open to adventure, to stained glass in the hallway to the smell of smoke under doorway number 4.
Do I remember what it was like to not feel like I knew everything? To suppose that the only way to have something new is to go far, far away. To the places we see in the pictures in the paper. To a place where war means something more than a point of view.
I don't know anything, though. I don't know what it's like to wake up in the heat with a fever, to know that the boys of my childhood are carrying guns. To be so young that people wail at my diagnosis, people fall apart on the telephone saying, "Oh no! Oh my love!" I don't know anything about being a ten year old boy on his birthday that came even though his mother died.
I hold my babies while they sleep. My big girl comes into my bed, sometimes and I will myself to stay awake, to feel the length of her against me, to etch it deeply in my bones. Someday she won't need me. When the sun comes up, I don't want to move, I don't want to breathe, I just want this moment to stay as long as it can. Her little face smiling sweetly on my pillow, the covers pulled up to her chin.
I'm getting older and some days I don't feel like I can do this. I don't feel like I can put on my clothes and walk around in the world, not when there's so much to do. Not when I don't always feel legitimate. Not when the boredom has settled in this deeply. But, remember? I don't know anything.
I know what it's like to wake up early to the sound of my baby crying, to bury my face under my pillow. I know what it's like to feel the heft and heat of my children and to remember them, when I was water and they were dreaming of a never ending sea.
I don't know what it's like when you're a momma and you're sick and going to leave your children forever. I don't know what it's like to wake up and have to remember that nothing will ever be the same. I don't know what it's like to be a face in the paper, brown and far away and unlucky.
Everything I know is easy. Everything I do is worship.
So, hug your babies tight while you can, a letter comes to me in the morning.
And I can. I know that much. Buried under the things I think I know and the things I'll never be, I can hug my babies.