The powerful moments in life

I am FINALLY feeling somewhat better! Yippee Skippy! It also helped that today was beautiful, almost genuinely warm.

I had a blissful morning with the twins, reading to them. Joanna likes to lean back and snuggle hear head into my shoulder, while Emily leans forward, eagerly pointing at the book and making the various animal noises. I have not yet found a way to talk about my love for my kids, and the delight I find in their company in a way which has not been said a billion times before, and which consequently doesn’t sound cliché. But this morning’s snuggle/read-fest was one of those times in which you feel your body ringing with joy, your heart vibrating with the love that fills every cell and flows through your limbs. I have had a few of those moments in my life, when the love and connection is almost tangible. It’s the sort of thing impossible to convey in a movie, but that a few of the great books have somehow captured. Those moments shine, persisting even when I’ve forgotten the surrounding events. And it’s not always pure joy, but the emotion seems so clear and strong, and the feeling of connection to other people so direct. I treasure those memories.

I remember the first time I heard cello, when I was four years old. I remember the sound ringing in my heart and mind, being entranced.

I remember the first time I saw the ocean, when I was a little kid and my family went to North Carolina for vacation. I remember holding onto my dad’s hand, a bit freaked out as I felt the sand shift under my feet with the outgoing tide, but absolutely entranced by the sun glinting off the water, by the water rising to cover my feet, my legs.

I remember an afternoon with my four closest friends in high school, a day we spent together, bonded and close.

I remember a morning from college when I was falling in love with my boyfriend, coming out from the dorm and heading for the dining hall. I remember the sunshine feeling sunnier and the sky seeming more vivid, and laughing at myself internally, and yet feeling the genuine power and delight of that moment.

I remember an afternoon, the summer after my freshman year, when I was sitting in the back of a car with my friend, coming back from the beach. It felt to us, inexplicably, that the air was lambent and the love between us flowered and flowed all around. The two guys sitting in the front were unaware of our magical bubble, in which we experienced our connection without words but with such sweetness. We talked about it later and confirmed that we’d both felt it.

I remember playing a quartet the summer I spent at Chautauqua, one of those incredible times that the music and the musicians gel and unite, and you find yourself singing together through your instruments, part of something so much larger than yourselves. Those moments in chamber music are, for me, not replicable anywhere else.

There have been many others, of course. Since I have had kids, I’ve had them more frequently. I wouldn’t say they are necessarily more powerful, because life is full of intensity and beauty with and without children. But certainly I have felt that lip-trembling, overwhelming happiness more frequently, and my children have a line into my heart not quite like anything I’ve experienced before.

When Hazel was a year old we had a little party for her. I sang my re-written version of, “You Are My Sunshine” to her (lyrics minus the icky co-dependency), and wept as I sang. I could barely get through it. I cried that way at my wedding, too. At those times it feels like I’m connected to past, present, and future, and the energy of life is flowing through me with an intensity I couldn’t handle all the time, I’d burn out. But in the moment, I glory in it.

When the twins were babies, there was a day when Emily slept on my chest, right over my heart, and I felt it expand to fill my entire body, felt the joy of it bring tears to my eyes. I wanted to promise her that I’d never let anything bad happen to her. I knew I couldn’t make that promise, that life will happen with its complexity and difficulty and joy. But I could promise her I will always love her.

This morning was like that. I am grateful for my kids, for the inner work I’ve done and continue to do, that has allowed me to open more to life, to joy, to gratitude, to see and appreciate all the things, great and small, which contribute to its beauty.

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