Originally posted (to Red Room) – SEP.29.2012 – 4:51 PM
When Kwame was born two months pre-maturely, no one was sure he would survive; he spent his first month in the outside world inside a neo-natal intensive care unit.
When he came into our family at Christmas time, in a perfect world he should not yet even have been born for another month. And yet, when he came into our world he made our world much fuller, more perfect — more complete (which is the definition, the very etymology, of the word “perfect”).
Lying in my lap, tilted slightly upward, pushing his tiny feet against my belly as if to support his diaphragm the way a singer would, he would growl in a surprisingly deep and strong, un-childishly gravelly voice. And when I responded in kind his eyes seemed to light up, and he would launch into a reciprocal call-and-response game, seeming to revel in the joys of recognizing, and being recognized by, a kindred spirit. His world was expanding, and my world, too, was becoming yet more perfect.
At first I’d responded the way I did from a desire to draw him out, to get him to exercise any faculties he had, hoping he would thereby free himself from the burden of potential deficits with which he’d been brought into the world. But gradually I found I was fully engaged, madly in love (besotted!) with this tiny child, who made me feel as loved as I loved him. Trying to nurture him, I discovered that the game had shifted, and he was nurturing me.
Months later, his oldest cousin Laure took the picture I use for my blog. Standing beside the huckleberry bush in our garden, I had begun to pick berries, feeding alternately first him and then myself. Suddenly he took the next berry I handed him and stuck it into my mouth instead of eating it himself. Once again the game had shifted, and we began alternately feeding berries to each other.
Further expanding his power over his world, he stopped waiting for me to hand him the berries and began picking them himself — popping them into my mouth as fast as he could reach them. Yet again, my own world had become still more perfect, and my oldest and youngest grandchildren together produced the iconic image of the moment.
Note: (1) See Diane Kester http://www.wisdomcommons.org/users/2523-diane-kester