We are driving under a blue sky—the promise of spring— and the road is bleached white from its winter salt treatments. The trees rim our going, bark-bared and pristine, flashing glimpses of pale new skin underneath the peeling old. I shiver at the way the white settles into the cracks of worn out things—remnants of the cold; dried up bones of the skeleton that supports a body made of trees and grass and concrete, of flesh and blood. Just this morning I noticed them—those fine white lines settled around my eyes.
“You’re having your surgery at St. Mary’s,” I tell him—he with his earbuds thrumming. “That’s where you were born, you know. You’ve come full circle.”
“Not really,” he says. “It’s not that many years ago.”
“Sixteen,” I say. “Your whole life. Maybe this will be a sort of new birth. A new beginning.”
I laugh a little as I say it, he hates when I get all squishy. But still, I can’t help it. I feel hopeful. Hopeful that we’re on the right path. Hopeful we might finally have a handle on this problem that has plagued him since he was nine months old. Hopeful he won’t lose any more hearing.
But I am always hopeful.
“Maybe,” he says, and shrugs his shoulders.
Full circle. His is not a big one yet, but here we are. Back where he started.
It doesn’t mean that much to him because he doesn’t remember. But I was there to hear his first cry. They were my arms which waited for his wrinkled body to fill them, my heart that beat pressed up against his skin for the better part of two years after that.
And still my heart presses hard against the cage of this body for him—my firstborn.
Perhaps it is I who has come full circle.
All this fretting and despair of the last couple years giving way to optimism. And I remember how it felt to hold him that first time—like I held the world in my embrace…like anything is possible and all is well.
But all has not been well for a while and I have seen how anything is possible—the good and the bad. This world I hold in my arms has been filled with doubt and pessimism. But here I am today…holding hope once again.
And I wonder if this is how Moses must have felt when he returned to Mt. Sinai? When he left that bush burning it was in fear and trembling and now he stands in the shadow of that mountain again—after ten plagues and walking a dry path through the Red Sea, after manna and quail and water from the rock, and after following God in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night…is this all it takes to find hope again?
I glance at him out of the corner of my eye and he’s withdrawn back into the world that comes out of those earbuds.
And he’s smiling.
And I realize that I’ve walked through the Red Sea on dry land. Manna clings to the sides of this minivan and we drive through the watch of naked trees down a road stained salt-white under a blue sky.
And into hope.
The winner of Margaret Feinberg's new book Wonderstruck is Pam O'Brien! Yay, Pam! I'll be in touch to get your snail. I hope you're encouraged to live in wonder through Margaret's lovely words.
With the beautiful Emily today:
And dear, dear Jennifer: