Twice this week I have been part of a story with true love in action. And in each instance it was the clasping of two hands that brought joyful tears to my eyes.
An infant is born. Pure and innocent in a world that is far from good enough for this new life. It may have been in a home, a tub, or a hospital room. Or perhaps in a backseat because the little one could not wait a few more minutes.
For the mother there has been months of expectancy and hours, perhaps days, of pain in delivering the child. Skin stretched. Organs moved. Feet and hands swelled. And strangers walked up to pat the tummy. Miraculous ice chips are called forth to help comfort the delivery. And sometimes the closest a new mother can get to vodka (aka an epidural). If the father is wise, he will not make a sound if his feet hurt or hand is crushed in this process. If he is unwise, he should just run.
A doctor, nurse, or midwife watches over the parents until the infant is born. Expertise is tempered with humility and empathy for each journey. Knowing that it should be okay does not guarantee that it will be; and it does not mean that okay will be easy or soon. This helper knows that the entire room is waiting for a high-pitched cry before okay is there.
First breath. First cry.
Cloths are gathered from throughout the room to wipe of remnants of the inside world. Wrapping in a blanket, a first gift to the child, this new little life is placed on the mother’s chest. The great reward for her great work. A tiny fist clutches around a single finger. Those hands will touch again and again over the coming years. To guide across a busy street. To promise future reunion. To stand together against a not good enough world.
This home was chosen for this child.
Bride and groom standing at the altar. The flowers are arranged throughout the room. The caterer has the food warmed in the next room. Light shines from windows and candles. And hushed guests fill the hall.
For the bride and groom, all those details fade from view after months of planning and choosing exactly where each piece should be. Now it is just these two. Anything perfect is just wallflowers. Anything missing is missed. And anything wrong will be noticed another day, maybe.
Love is more complicated than any movie portrays. Even the action movies where a hero must saved their partner from a burning skyscraper. Hallmark may have everything right in two hours, but reality takes much longer to start and does not finish with credits on a screen.
A stolen breath is the start of…
The chapter that begins at the altar must be remembered and re-chosen every day forward. It can also be celebrated in the following years, including by returning to an altar to renew the promises and add in new ones for the next pages in the chapter.
New flowers, good, and guests can be gathered with light shining down once again. But if you are lucky (and by lucky, I mean you have worked you donkey off), then once again it will all dim. Interlocking fingers for an intertwined life. Warriors who fight for one another every day.
This home is chosen every day.