I wrote this for my eldest son, who lives in a Northern village with his own little family. It’s about letting him go, while holding onto him with my heart…
Allaah, Glorified and Exalted is He, says in the Qur’aan:
By al-‘Asr (the time).
Verily, man is in loss,
Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience.
There was a time before- you don’t understand, it is not your memory- when dreams were large- too large to be held in one small, uncertain beat of a heart (the heart of yours, when it was connected to mine). Not the dreams of day built of hopes, half-formed understanding…not the dreams of desires. I mean night dreams, the kind that steal up behind you when you walk in a park in a city far from home and the smell of wood smoke brings Kickapoo days of stumbling childhood to the front of your brain, and you see the stars just beyond your grasp.
This surety of time, of space, a longing for a reality that slipped by in the muddy waters of the tumbling river, a white face glimpsed, here; a hand held out, fingers curled, grasping for a hold, a solidity that slides through your fingers, a waterfall of glittering sand.
Long afternoons spent sitting in sun-dappled grass, toes digging in cool earth, you the handhold to what was important, the anchor which grounded me from the day your heart began to beat in my womb. The joy of you- of you and I- of never being alone nights when I lay awake, hearing your soft breath in the baby bed by mine. Before you I used to lay in wind whisper darkness and reach out to my mother, picture her sitting at the kitchen table, playing solitaire and watching Star Trek reruns, jaunty in the middle of the night in her men’s pajamas- I was never alone as long as I knew my mother was awake. Then you- this impossible little blond-haired boy with the face of a woodland elf and questions enough to fill in all the empty spaces.
Where does the sky begin?
The sky begins in your chest, an exhalation of breath that carries the hopes and longings and lives of all who came before. The sky, my child, begins with you.
These things I hold close, you understand, when I hear the sound of your voice, carried through dry desert air like a heartbeat. I can no longer explain your worries away, help you interpret the signals of life, talk to your dreams. Words no longer suffice, the comfort of touch is lost.
So I wait, my trust in Allaah complete, knowledge and understanding bring the surety of truth to my heart. I have learned the wisdom of silence, the justice that comes with patient perseverance. The world keeps spinning in its course, the great plan of life unfolds, and someday, by the grace and mercy of the One who holds my soul in His Hands, the circle will bring you back to me.
I cannot turn away from the truth- not even to breathe the sky to you.