Discover more from soft leaves
The other night I cried before bed because I probably will never feed Miro with my body again. I would rather not go into the specifics of the way his eyes were like a seals’ looking up at me or how a small body’s weight feels different when it relaxes all the way, because the details said out loud make it all so much less than it was. And I don’t want to bore you. But you know how it is. You know what it’s like to feel so much that the line between joy and sorrow fuzzes out of existence. You know what it’s like to try to memorize a person’s touch and smell as if that were a way to hold on to them forever. You know what it’s like to be in love.
It’s difficult to write about Miro because, as all parents know, a child is a universe. I think we all know this — that every other person is a universe — but it’s hard to really understand it without a lot of careful study, which happens to be the work of parenting. I’ve spent more hours watching him than any other being on this planet (and I’ve spent a lot of hours watching cats). I could tell you that he approaches new things with studious caution, unless they are soft animals, which he must immediately touch. I could tell you about his drive to understand the mechanisms of every object or his aesthetic sensibility in the way he arranges shoes all over the apartment, but you would still know nothing about him. I can’t describe to you his spark or how much knowing there is in his eyes.
When I look at old pictures of him, I see a little alien, with eyes that are too startled and movements jerky like an upside-down bug. I wonder where Miro is in there. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I gave birth to him, but that he was born of himself, molting baby-shells until he became who he is now. I knew from the beginning that he would never be my clay to mold, but didn’t quite grasp how quickly he would take charge of his own growing. We give him the outlines of an environment, but he interacts with it and takes it all in through his own personhood, and changes himself as he does so. He has so many more moltings ahead of him.
With my little universe, bundled up in fleece pants and a new coat that makes him walk even more like a penguin, we went to a children’s march for ceasefire in Gaza. Older kids dashed around us and the many strollers bearing toddlers tucked in with blankets and toys. Babies stared from their parents’ slings. Every one of them, a universe. “All Kids / Our Kids” reads one kid’s sign. I brought one of Miro’s first pairs of shoes, and I leave it at the makeshift alter that represents all the kids lost.
I’ve been looking at the numbers for weeks and I can’t make sense of them. The thought of losing Miro has haunted me from the day I met him and it’s too much grief to imagine. So what could the numbers from Israel and Gaza possibly mean? Infinity times 500 or 4,000 is still infinity. Internet rhetoric makes everything seem more confusing. There is grief and there is action. Grief we can hold for every single person whose world has been torn apart, no matter where they live or what they have done. The only action that makes any sense right now is to stop the mass killing that is still underway.
I take nothing for granted. Back home, he sleeps, and the quiet hum of the apartment is a richly textured symphony, glimmering with details that are as specific to my world as they are universal. The stack of books I haven’t read, the smell of coffee that I haven’t been able to get out of the couch arm, the whirr of the white noise machine and the tiny coughs that break through, the flotsam of tennis balls and trucks and wooden fruit across the carpet, the balloons from Halloween that’ve been assaulted but not popped every day since, the little things left unfinished or un-dealt with that normally bother me but are part of my life too. Each moment I spend with Miro is a reminder that Here I am, right now, and there is so much in the right now. Much more than I could ever hold onto, and so I breathe out and let each moment go.
What I’m Cooking
A warm, bright winter dish that’s a little bitter and a little sweet. Become a paid subscriber for recipes: