Short Story Sunday: love and life

Stopping short of insanity is impossible. When you are standing on the brink, there is no way to know. The fringes of chaos and reality look the same.

When you see the extremes of evil and beauty, how can you know when you have ventured into unreality because the overlap is broader than we like to think.

A lot like the banks of a river. The way they over fill in a few hours of rain, or lure you far into its bed after a month dry.

When you think long on it, what really is the difference between plumbing the depths of the raging river and climbing the steep and solid banks? You get wet, I suppose.

That’s why I’m here, standing in front of a window that’s inside a hospital. I never really understood these little zoo-like areas where they keep the new babies. Why is there glass? If someone wants to see them that is allowed to see them just visit the parents.

Anyway, the little squirmer in the crib two from the left is mine, I guess.

This is what I mean by the line between reality and insanity. There is no reason why this situation should be real.

Goodness seems that it should dictate that I should never have a child. I’m much too selfish.

I’ve never thought of anyone else before in my life. I haven’t admitted that before either. When I look at the lines of my hands I can think of all the choices I have made to give me the lines and creases, the scars left across the story of my life written there. Some of them, I told myself, were for others, but in truth they have all brought me glory.

The breath has caught in my throat. How long have I been standing here, forgetting to breathe? Cold glass presses my forehead. I guess I was leaning closer than I thought. I take those telling hands to rub the chill from my face and as they pass my cheeks they come away damp. Tears? Am I crying now, too?

I shuffle in one direction, then another. One of the staff approaches me. All I notice is the flashy strap holding their name badge on as they ask, “are you all right?”

I grunt an, “mmm hmm” before removing myself to the family area where the coffee and snacks are. I busy myself trying to make a coffee while wondering at the real answer to that question.

Am I all right? I have no clue as to the answer. Only one of two things is true as far as I can see it. Either I’m all right now, and was all wrong before. Or I’m all wrong now, and was all right before. I’m such an entirely different person today than I was yesterday, who’s to know where I’m at today?

I sit for a few minutes in the understuffed chair drinking a sad excuse for a coffee wondering whether I am better off today, or yesterday when I understood the world.

My puzzled brain cannot make sense of this.

I look up, trying to focus on the world around me for a minute.

Once again I feel the cold glass on my forehead, this time the palms of my hands soak it in as well. I’m back at the little exhibit of newborns seeking the face of my little one.

What was life before this moment? I watch the tiny features contorting in a miniature moment of tension and then relaxing into slumber again. What is this agony of fear and compulsion mingling in my chest? The need of my child is a sirens song.

I thought I’d known love in the arms of my lover. I thought I’d know selflessness. But, with my face against the glass of this sterile hospital I realize how little I had ever known of life until now. Love is not something you have to give to another. Love is something that grows within you because of the other. The less there is of you, the more there is of love. I now can see how people can open their hearts to so many. They have learned the secret to cultivating love in the soil of selflessness. What it can grow into has no limits! If there was ever a time that I was all right, it was this moment.

The contorted expression returned to the cherub face. I could see the cry, though there was no sound. A nurse was there in a second adjusting and picking. Soon, the two of them were coming through the door with a smile from the one and a weak wail from the other.

I smile weakly back and follow them down the hall. An awe and rapture take me over as I lift the bundle of magic from the basinet.

And I think I know something about life. What will another day teach me?

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