Her breath is rapid and raspy. She is desperately trying to maintain calm and control, but when she reaches up to brush her finger against the child’s cheek, she notices that her hands are trembling. She touches him anyway, just barely, his flawless, unmarked skin, absent of anything worldly, works to quiet her frantic thoughts. The position of the moon tells her it is 4 am. The child’s watchful, serene gaze is fixed upon her; it makes her feel naked, his stare so intense, he must see her soul. She hopes he does not see her fear. He is my son. This idea, unanticipated and without warning, escapes the locked cask of choked thoughts she has not permitted these nine months. She allows it again. He is my son. She will say it many more times in the coming months, waiting for her heart to catch up to reality.
She has trouble taking her eyes off him. He is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen; however, she hasn’t seen much. She is still young. She had intended to travel. Now, she never will. He will be her life. She will watch him grow into a toddler, a teenager, and a man–but she will never see his hair gray. She knows this. From the moment she knew of his life, she has warred against the feeling that she is alone. She feels unbearably alone. She holds a knowledge that few are aware of, and even fewer understand. She wishes she could be angry; however, she knows that she is chosen–and it is a blessing. It is this thought that she has rested upon for these months. She is chosen for a reason. While he grew inside her, the nausea, doubt, and sleepless nights growing as well, she continually asked herself why. She is just a girl. I am just a girl. I am just a girl. I am just a girl. Sometimes Joseph had to remind her because it was so easy to forget. “God does not always reveal his reasons,” he would say as he wiped the tears from her cheeks, leaving a wet etch across her face.
Other times, the Lord would provide her with incredible moments of peace and clarity. She would breathe in the desert air deeply and smile, wonderfully thankful, knowing that she could do this. During these times, she did not remember the doubt and anxiety. Right now, cold and unsure, she grapples for any atom of peace the Lord will provide. The child in her arms shifts into her, forming his body to hers. His blinks are lengthening and soon he will submit to sleep. She will look back on this moment many times throughout his life. In the hectic years to come, she will regularly recall this terrifying, yet mysteriously peaceful moment. She will remember it as the first and last time that it was just her, and the Savior of the world.
I was rocking my son last night around 2 am. Nuzzled into the crook of my arm, his bright blue eyes, flecked by Christmas light color, gazed into mine. Instead of enjoying this moment, like I should have been, I was crossing my fingers that I would see his eyelids fall like bricks, only to be pried open by his powerful will to fight sleep. When his eyes did open, however, the blue would have become slightly murky. I depend on this indicator to inform me that sleep is at least imminent for my little man, meaning that I will get to crawl back into my bed shortly.
My thoughts drifted to the first time I held my son. This was only eight months ago, but it feels like much more. I often forget my fear as the realization that I was responsible for this child slowly uncovered itself. I often forget the smile that played across my face as I felt the warmth and softness of his skin for the first time. I often forget the questions that raced through my mind and the doubt that I even had the capacity to be a parent. I often forget the promises I made to him as he rested against my chest. As I enjoyed this memory, transfixed by the glimmer of the Christmas lights around my son’s window, I thought of my Savior’s mother. I thought about how she was just a girl, given an incredible responsibility. I thought about her fear, her doubt, and her panic as she held an 8 pound Jesus in her arms, enraptured by his flawless gaze. Then, with my son in my arms, I whispered to her, in the same way I whisper to my Grandma when I tell her I miss her, “Mary, I finally understand your story.”