Posting this two days after the fact, but our boy is a whoppin' 365 (367) days old! It's gone fast, I suppose, though hindsight is tricky, slippery. Thought I would post some words I shared during the cozy gathering we held in his honor yesterday at our Wallingford abode...
Growing up, I always loved it when, on my birthday, in the hours leading up to my birth time of 10:10 a.m. PST, my mom/your Grandma Robyn would say things like “X number of years ago today, almost to the minute, I was being prepped for my Caesarean, talking to you, telling you that you were about to be lifted out into this world, and that it would probably make for a pretty shocking experience.” That sort of thing. And I loved this, loved being transported back to my time of earthly arrival, imagining what it was like for my mom and dad, what it was like for me.
And so, Finn Kjartan, our little “water warrior” as we consider your name to mean, I would like to continue this exercise, in honor of your origin; your joining our Norwegian/Swedish/Irish/Lebanese/Dutch/Italian/Icelandic-at-heart family; your introducing your dad and me to a whole new, crazy-awesome kind of love. Every year at and around 5:30 p.m. PST, April 11, I plan to reflect aloud on what I—and what our family—was experiencing X number of years ago to the approximate hour.
As you know, we’ve talked you through some of these memories in recent days, especially yesterday, your actual birthday. And today—a year ago today, mid-afternoon time—you were almost a day old. We were still in our dim, cocoon-like room at Northwest Hospital, with you and me receiving some follow-up treatment in the wake of your birth, and it seems likely that you were either sleeping or nursing, drawing nutrients and strength that would help get you to today, your first birthday and a stage that finds you pulling yourself up to standing all over the place, cruising, chattering, smiling, sneering, cackling, pushing your mom and dad away when you’re feeling crowded, “testing out” various home appliances (the vacuum!)… And though those early days are a little hazy, I remember watching you as you fed then looking over at your dad, who was dozing on and off on his hospital-room cot, and just marveling at this small, wondrous human we’d created. At YOU.
Happy first birthday, Finn!
And now, speaking of arrival—“your place in the family of things”—I’d like to share a poem by Mary Oliver.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.