We have a new born babe in our apartment block. The baby’s cry enters all eight of our homes unbidden filling all the spaces with a sound that evokes nostalgia, tenderness, hope. That fresh, unadulterated, heart-clutching cry of a newly arrived into-the-world little person. The other day I was sitting on my bed reading when the cry bounded into my room. It invaded my body, wringing my heart this way and that way. I closed my book and listened. Just listened. And the thoughts came and flooded me. So I picked up my pen and wrote:
Dear new born baby in apartment no.8
Welcome little one, welcome.
How good does that air feel in your small lungs? To be able to breathe is a gift you will come to appreciate. The sheer magnittude of it will consume you.
Your family must be thrilled now that you are here, in the world. You are a bundle of joy. I bet they watch you as you sleep sometimes and catch themselves breathless.
“How did we make such a perfect little person?” your father whispers to your mother.
Your mother smiles and kisses him lightly on the lips, “We did, didn’t we?” she replies her voice thick with emotion.
They will remember these moments forever. You will not. For now, people will carry you. And they will even carry most of your memories for you. One day they will hand them to you in stories and picture albums. Narratives and family histories. It will be grand and funny, painful and beautiful. You will hold these crafted and secure images of your beginning in your hands and finally pull them into yourself. They will become your own memories .
You will not stay a baby. Your limbs will pull in all sorts of directions and extend your body and your mind into childhood, then teenagehood and finally adulthood. So much will happen in your life. The ups and downs of being a human being that I feel the strongest urge to protect you from. But they are necessary if you are going to learn what it means to be here on this planet. This honour and privilege of being alive. I hope your mama and papa will prepare you for some of those things, for life.
But know also that there is only so much they can do. Alot of your life will unfold because life happens and because you sit at the reins of it. You will make decisions. A large part of your life will be the outcome of the things you think, say and do; the things you will become as a fully defined person. Trust me, it will be difficult but it will be beautiful.
The world, it is in a mess right now, I cannot lie. And I am sorry that this is what you will inherit – the outcome of many bad choices by those of us who have been here longer which we too inherited from our forefathers before us. It is an endless cycle. And for any thinking and feeling person it is easy to get discouraged.
When you do get discouraged, don’t be too hard on yourself. You have a responsibility because you live on this planet but you are not a god commissioned to save yourself or anyone. This is a big deal. If you learn well the limits of your humanity you will avoid many a heartache.
And speaking of heartache I have to tell you about people. They are a beautiful species but they can also do senseless and hurtful things that leave you speechless. And sometimes you can never be prepared for that and for the pain relationships can bring to your doorstep. But know this little one; that when you find people who love you unconditionally, support you wholeheartedly, are firecely loyal and graciously allow you space to get up when you fall down; people who will stay through thick and thin as well as stay to figure out how to do relationships well, then hold on tight to these people. They are the ones. Wrap them around you. Tie them close. They are the best life will offer you.
The heartbreaks will teach you things too. Never shun them but don’t go looking for them either. Experience is not always the best teacher. Nor the kindest. Wisdom is.
You have an exciting journey ahead of you. And I hope the ups are just as rich and instructive as the downs. That when you look back on the whole thing, it will be one big, giant epic love story; your love affair with life. I will think of this every time I hear your little cry flow down into my apartment. And I will send out this prayer for you again and again. Until you no longer need it.
sentimental girl in no.5