Oh Lord, you will lead me in the valley of the shadow. Grab my hands, Oh Lord, so they might only cling to you. Take me by the shoulders and guide me so that I might stay in the lighted path. Direct my gaze, Oh Lord, so that I might see the blessings that surround me.
While cleaning the other day, I found a packet of pictures from our first year of marriage. In one of them I'm close to 20 weeks along with Gianna, it's Thanksgiving, and I'm proudly holding out my first-ever attempts at home made apple pie. My hair looks recently trimmed and is sleek and smooth. I must have had the time to fix it. My skin and eyes glow with expectation and well-restedness. To my now-wizened outlook I appear so young and fresh-faced I can't believe anyone let me get married, let alone have a baby.
"That person has no idea," I told Brad as I held the picture out to him. She has no idea she'll have to learn a new language and angst over chromosomes and retinas. She has no idea that people have cochleas and vestibular systems. She has no idea she'll be one day balancing the boisterous energy of a little boy with the unique needs of two very special little girls.
Gianna took a bad spill walking across our kitchen a couple of days ago. She tripped over one of Pia's push toys and when she tried to steady herself on it the wheels rolled out from under her and she slammed face-first into our tile floor. What would likely have been a mere stumble for a typical kid turned out very dangerous for her. Fortuitously, my cousin and his wife were visiting us the next day; Dana is a doctor and was able to take a look at it; she thought maybe it wasn't broken but even if it was, Gianna was breathing fine and not bleeding a lot so there would be nothing to "do" for it.
That evening I lay in bed worrying. Pia is 19 months old and not walking. Strangers are starting to comment on her size and age and asking with wrinkled brows, "She's not walking yet??" I've been pining for her to walk but now I'm scared. So many more falls in our future for my vestibularly-challanged girls. I felt tired and sad just thinking about it.
I thought of that girl in the picture, my younger, more innocent self and I'll confess to a moment of pure, unadulterated yearning. I wanted to go back there. I wanted to be in a place where the only weight I felt was the warmth of homemade pies, fresh from the oven.
The only thing is, that girl hadn't really loved yet. She hadn't walked through fire to pull her baby girl, soft and wet, to her chest. She hadn't had her first big fight with her husband or sat nervously in a hospital waiting room with him. She hadn't had a small, trusting hand nestled into her own or nuzzled the top of a toddler's head in a rare moment of stillness. She hadn't yet begun to learn the art of being grateful for each and every thing.
Would I really go back if I could? I am a different person now, with a different life, but it's because of love. Love changes you. This love that I choose to act upon, every day, brings me life. A life that has been filled to the brim with opportunities to give more, love more, change more, and discover, sometimes in spite of myself, true joy. No. I'm not going back.