Birthday

Today is my birthday.

My mother’s voice sings,

“Happy Birthday” from my voice-mail.

When I was a child, she said

“You don’t get older until someone

sings the song,” and I

fight the absurd urge to shout,

“Stop!  You’re making me older!”

***

Such is the weight of a mother’s words.

My sons sing, “Happy Birthday” to me,

their three wee voices

intertwined in disharmonic joy, and I

clap, joyful…thankful, with

the weight of my power coiled peacefully,

for now, in my gut.

**

Things that Burn

A few weeks ago, I was getting C in the bath and he began to protest. “Hah! Hah!” he complained. “Hah” is C-speak for “hot” but it can mean too hot or too cold. I felt the water and it was quite cold, so I turned on the the hot water.

Within seconds, scalding water was shooting from the shower head and C was screaming. Withing microseconds, I had somehow turned the shower was off and was holding C in my arms. I rocked him and apologized (and apologized and apologized) as he cried.

After awhile, I got him to look at me and confirmed that I could get him back in the bath without calling 911 (or having him do it). I sat in the bathroom, sopping wet, soothing him and playing with him, until all was again good in his world.

I put him to bed that night, my heart awash with relief and terror of what could have been. I looked out the window at the Maxfield Parrish sunset, which – from where I sat – was the only evidence of the devastation that was burning through a valley near Boulder.

So much in life seems to come down to chance. A child is accidentally scalded by a shower head. Or he isn’t. A house burns down in a valley. Or it doesn’t. One friend dies of cancer. Another is, blessedly now deemed to be “cancer free”.

All we can do is the best we can do. Let go of the things that burn. Or hold them in your heart. And which is best? Only the burning heart can know.