17 January 2011

Beauty & Brokenness

It was my birthday yesterday. My family drove from out of town for the occasion and thanks to an incredible deal from Groupon, we celebrated by going to the Seattle Aquarium and out to dinner afterward.

The weather here is incredibly mild for the time being. Though a strong wind from the south was blowing hard against us while we were on the waterfront, the fifty-seven degree weather meant that even though it was January, we really didn't need wool coats or gloves.

We embraced the experience right alongside all the other families that were there, touching anemones and starfish, making faces at a rather shy and incredibly orange octopus, and jealously watched the unbelievably lithe underwater movements of the seals. We pressed hands and faces up against the glass and for a little while, became kids again. James, who was enamored of animals at a very young age (and especially sea creatures of all shapes and sizes) repeated facts about the sea creatures we looked at, teaching us to wonder at them a little more.

After leaving the aquarium, we walked down Alaskan Way, passing several piers and the boats harbored there. The sun reflected brilliantly off the waters of the Puget Sound as the sun set, giving our faces a welcome respite from the wind that continued to blow. The day was capped off with dinner and a delicious piece of chocolate birthday cake that was rich enough for five of us to split and feel satisfied.

It was as good a day to celebrate as I could hope for.

But then the end of the day came and as I lay in bed, I thought of what a beautiful day it was: how we laughed and smiled and saw these beautiful things that normally lie below the surface of what we see. I thought of how much I would have liked to show Ewan these things. At four months old, I could imagine him smiling with big eyes, making awe-inspired sounds, and clapping his chubby little baby hands together. I could imagine him falling asleep against my chest as the day wore on, and in the car on the way back home.

That's when all that beauty began to hurt. I needed a day like yesterday, one where I could see beautiful things and share them with the people I love most. That includes Ewan, now and for the rest of my life, and it makes the loss feel fresh and raw all over again not to have him here. No one needs to preach to me about how he's in a better place, how he's no longer suffering, or how he's surrounded by a beauty that is incomprehensible to the human mind. I get that.

But it is also true that every time I don't get to share a day like yesterday with him, a part of my broken heart bleeds again. Even as I need that beauty to heal, it will continue to wound a little as well. I think that's just part of the deal.