Monday, December 31, 2007
Two Years On
My son will be two years old this week. Everybody tells you that "the time goes so fast,” but it doesn’t seem real until you are looking at a big boy who just a moment ago, or so it seems, was a tiny newborn cradled against your heart. When he was born, I was afraid to revel in him; I always felt as if a Damocles’ sword was hanging over me, as if he’d be taken away by a cruel fate if I dared to fall too deeply in love with him. The days rocking him, holding him, nursing him seemed endless, but in my memory now they seem as if they were just one long day. There is so much I can’t remember.
My prayer for him is the same as any mother’s prayer for her child: that he’ll be happy and healthy, that he will know and love God, and that he will be free from the torment and strife that shaped my own childhood and adulthood. But I also hope that he will love the things that I love, not out of vanity, but because the things that I love, chief among them music and poetry, took the child of torment and strife that I was and helped to fashion me into something more graceful, more giving, and far better able to love what is beautiful in the world.
The French composer Oliver Messiaen wrote a song in 1930 called “La fiancée perdue,” a setting of his own text. The last words are, in translation: “O Jesus, bless her! Her! Give her your powerful grace! That she may know nothing of suffering, of tears! Give her tranquility, Jesus!” In spite of the exclamation points, the music in this final section of a very loud and fast song is extremely calm and restful, and dwindles away into silence. I also pray this for my son.