Welcome to the one and only world we know, Charlotte Quinn Trainor — Charlee, as you will be known, a babe in swaddling clothes. Friday night, holy night. God incarnated pays the world yet another visit.
I woke up just after midnight, checked my phone, and there you were in all your glory, all 8 pounds, 12 ounces of you, despite being three weeks early — two-fisted, eyes shut against the blinding light of this vast new dimension that just goes on and on, so different from your nine-month cloistering, so peacefully dark and comfortable and nourishing inside your mom. Life gets … more complicated from here. But you have tools to navigate with. Eyes that can see — and there is so much to see, so much beauty in this world, to which you just added, immeasurably, yours.
And ears to hear the music of that world; a nose for its myriad scents; a mouth and tongue to taste food and to wrap around words; hands that, once unclasped, will reach and grasp and caress and release. With these five sensors you will come to know life’s extraordinary immediacy and its nearly infinite goodness.
And two gifts more: a mind and a voice. Your mind the tip of the iceberg of consciousness, which we dearly hope is infinite. Look what you’ve already learned in less than a day — how to find the source of nourishment, how to root and drink the milk of mother’s kindness, and how to swallow. What a sensation that must be.
And your voice, oh my, that voice. I called your dad at the hospital and, in the background, before I encountered the rest of you, I met your robust complaint as you momentarily lost track of your nutritional connection. The power of that cry of deep hunger startled me, awoke in me the ferocious cry of life longing for itself. That was your gift to me. Our acquaintance: The robust voice of someone who intends never to be taken for granted.
None of this can be taken for granted. Each time life re-incarnates, the miraculous is reborn. Wonder is reborn. Perhaps you have been reborn. Anything seems possible right now.
When I held you for the first time on Sunday, you were so small and yet so large, eclipsing everything else in the universe.
You are the first girl on my branch of the family tree in four generations. I have five brothers, a son, two grandsons. You will teach me how a girl grows into a woman.
The cycle begins anew. So much ahead … for all of us. If all goes well, I may see 20 years of your life, maybe more. Joseph Campbell said life is like arriving at a movie after it has begun. We’re all trying to figure out what we missed — without pestering everyone else with too many questions — and we leave before the ending, which we hope will be happily ever after.
It’s OK, by the way, to pester me with questions. I’ll do my best to answer them, though you’ll figure a lot of it out for yourself and with the help of other people. Your path is yours alone, but we all share the road, as a wise man once observed:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
I will share the road with you as long as I can, wondering all the while what you might get to see after I depart. Life can be hard, but it is good. Deeply good. Sometimes so deep you’ll think its goodness is buried. But it’s not. It’s all around, waiting to be seen with your eyes, heard with your ears, tasted with your tongue, smelled with your nose, touched with your hands, understood with your mind and memory, and celebrated with that marvelous, full-throated voice.
If all goes well, you will see the 22nd century, and I hope live much longer than that. If you do, it will mean that, against all odds, we saved this planet and made it more livable, hopefully for all its inhabitants and for all time. Maybe you’ll even travel to other worlds — hopefully not by necessity.
It’s true you have been born into a troubled world, but many of us are trying to defend its beauty and make it a better place. And every time we get a little discouraged and wonder if our dreams might not come true, along comes someone like you to make us realize we just haven’t tried hard enough.
And that we can’t afford to fail.
Thanks, Charlee, for coming into our crazy, beautiful world.
How sweet it is to fall in love again.