Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Gift of Light

I'm breaking my recent self-imposed ban on NICU writing today to write about #light, because these are the words that came and I am powerless against them. You can find more #light and beauty over at SheLoves

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I was born in the month of August. Here in the South, it is the time of a good thing gone on for too long, and I'm sure that's how my mother felt those 26 years ago. It is the time when the flies are born too, and the sun bakes everything in sight for their month-long celebratory feast. It is the time of sweat dripping from even the daintiest of women, and of front lawns ignored in favor of more humane tasks. It is the time of sweet teas and fans on the front porch, or air conditioning with the shades drawn in the house. Even the most recreational of outdoor pursuits are temporarily abandoned. All because the sun has overstayed his welcome, and we who once cheered at his arrival for the warmth and light he brought, now turn away bitterly, speaking in hushed tones to each other about the burden he's become, and not entirely minding if he overhears.


It is in this month last year that I found myself about 400 miles east of my birthplace and nine months pregnant. The sweat dripped from every pore and no breeze, man-made or otherwise, was strong enough to cool me down. I found sanctuary in peach popsicles that melted in my mouth and dripped down my hands. Walking what were once casual distances became an act of bravery, subversion even, proof that I could take the heat. I powered through being outside like it was a workout, and I had just a few more reps to go.

On the third day of September, my son was born. He spent one safe night in the quiet and cool of our dimly lit hospital room before being transferred to the bright lights and steady beeps of the NICU. It was there that we three spent the majority of September, that great sigh of relief to August's held breath.  But in the NICU, there were no seasons, nor days, not even windows to mark the hours, only florescent lights that burned without end, and babies away from their mamas' touch for another minute too long.

I would have forgotten about seasons altogether during those long three weeks were it not for the hospital courtyard. In the courtyard, summer was finally melting into fall. Cool breezes ran through my hair as I made my slow, post-partum way along the winding, tree-lined path, or sat gently on a moss-covered bench and watched the most sensitive of the still-green leaves make their way to the ground. I would close my eyes there and feel the sun on my skin, warm and bright at midday, barely peeking through the trees at dusk, each day becoming more gentle. The light of that sun danced on the paved floor of the courtyard, centering my disoriented rhythms and speaking to me of a world outside the hospital walls, reminding me that it existed, and that our family would return to make a home in it one day.

At three weeks old, my son saw the sun for the first time. And I couldn't have been more pleased to bring him into its light.

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