Some mornings, I wake up with day-old contacts on day four, maybe five, feeling as though I’ve never left that sticky, green, NICU recliner, a tiny little blonde birdie resting on the rise and fall of my sore, milk-full chest, my heartbeat her song. The world tells me it’s 2022, but my heart, my body, my mind, 2020. But what does my soul say? It wonders, does time evaporate like hot rain in the garden of our lives or does it become an ocean of love that connects us, or both?
Some mornings, I wake with that impossible feeling, the one where it was just us two tucked away from the rest of the world in quarantine, one of us staring at a brick wall pray-begging over and over again to,” keep breathing, little one” and for the noise of the machines, the beeps, to cease. Except now, one of us isn’t as little, and that one’s in the other room watching the repetitive and very unqualified babysitter that is Coco Melon, eating an apple whole while I talk to myself, again. Breathe, I tell her.
Some mornings, I do begin by breathing. But only in the bathroom where I pretend I am showering or conducting the very-important-needs-to-be-addressed-immediately-or-else business of being alone, or after school drop-off when the symphony of four children getting ready for the day abruptly ends with a quick door slam giving way to an old friend called Quiet that rushes in like the gentle, honest river that it is.
Some mornings, regrettably, I believe the person on the other side of the screen who felt it pertinent in their corner of the world to tell me, quickly, rudely, in this corner of mine, to do better or be better, anonymously.
Some mornings, before I put on my glasses so I can properly see the world with all of its unforgiving truths, I’ll lay in bed as the pinky orange glow of the sunrise washes over the soft curves of my still tired body. Light: lingering in a fuzzy haze, hugging the blurry lines and silhouettes of the room. Me: pretending like air is the color of cotton candy, sweet and irresistible, believing that this is what it feels like to truly see.
Some mornings, before I slide my bare feet out of our warm, familiar bed and rest them on the cold, unfamiliar floor I’ll wonder sharply if my birth mom ever got to hold me? Or did they take me away before she could map the shape of my face with her blue eyes – the ones I got from her – to feel that pang in her heart, the one that changes everything that came before it? Was she alone? Was it raining? Did anyone bring a balloon, or were they already trying hard to forget. I’ll wonder if her labor was long. Or painful. And if today, maybe even on this morning 34 years later, she still feels the contractions of longing, the invisible pains of what if’s, the hurt of me?
Some mornings, I forget that I need quiet like I need air and that I need time alone like I need water. Some mornings I forget that I need both air and water, too. And on some mornings, the really good ones, I remember that I need them all, and that writing makes me feel alive and that reading makes me feel seen. Those mornings are gifts.