A friend asked, in the days following my emergency trip to the hospital, if I thought the flare-up in my intestine could be a result of how busy I’ve been. Could the stress be getting to me? The numerous projects? The deadlines?
Of course, I deflected that idea. We are always in control, aren’t we? We are always sure that the alcohol is helping us to cope with life. We are always sure that the sugar is a harmless sidekick. We are always sure that the work and the busyness and the fast pace is something helping us to thrive.
Meanwhile, our minds and bodies, never meant to operate under such heavy burdens, begin to break down.
* * * * *
Maile wakes me between 4:30 and 5:45. She has been up with Leo a few times, and it’s my turn. I roll out of bed and carry him downstairs so she can get some uninterrupted sleep. The house is quiet, but if the windows are open I can hear the early-morning traffic going by on James Street. I sit in the dark living room, light from the hallway falling diagonally through the room, lighting up a few dirty diapers still on the coffee table, a few magic markers half-hidden under the sofa. The chess board is open, pieces strewn in mid-battle.
The light falls on Leo’s face, and I cannot work while I hold him, and I cannot make myself breakfast, and I cannot do anything besides look at his face and remind myself to breathe.
This baby has forced me to slow down, to sit quietly, to breathe. I chomp at the bit, wanting to run full force again into a day’s worth of work, but he tugs on the reins and holds me in check.
So we sit together, and he smiles in his sleep. A friend of mine on Facebook said that her mother used to say angels were whispering in a baby’s ear when they smile like that in their sleep. I find that easy to believe, on a quiet morning, when the light slants in that particular way, and the early-morning traffic is going by on James Street.