Sweetness of shadows

I’ve called the month after our son was born my “personal Vietnam” (I beg the pardon of my father-in-law and anyone who served in the real Vietnam).

In those 30 days, I brought two strangers home to a house that was itself a stranger to me: We moved in just a week before our son was born. I didn’t know this new person whose carrying on and crying seemed to synchronize to the times I needed to sleep. My wife who came home from the hospital–her body exhausted and wounded and her mind awash in strange hormones–was not the same woman I took there a few days earlier.

As I cared for my convalescing wife and my newborn son in that strange new house, I wished for the days to speed by quickly. All I wanted was to get back to something that felt familiar, normal.

Those days coincided with the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. Each day, the evening came a little sooner. I got to know how the dying light heaved itself through the window and breathed its last upon our floor. My memories of those days are of light and shadow.

Five years later, when the light and shadows change with the end of summer, I think of that first fall in a strange house with two strange people.

The house is now my home. My heart is at home with those two people who are dearer to me than I ever knew two people could become.

And the light and shadows that seemed so brooding then are beautiful in my memory. Five years ago, I wanted to pass through them as fast as I could. Now, I’m sorry they passed so quickly. They are gone forever.

We need to live our lives carefully: The shadows we wish we could escape today often turn out to be the light we wish we could revisit tomorrow.


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