Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dear Duckie

This week was the week you were due. This is also the beginning of a new year, and I am going to do my best to let you go. While the time passed between your loss and your erased due date, it felt a little like a haze was over my life -- like I was looking through a colored gel like they use in stage lighting. That's not to say I wasn't happy or that I dwelled, just that you were sort of there, too. And now, I think I'm going to let that go.

If you had grown up with me, you'd have known me to be a realistic optimist, a pragmatist, a skeptic. When you asked why the sky was blue, I would tell you about light. When Christmas rolled around, I would not try hard to deceive you about Santa.

We have been having long and serious talks with your older sister about God and Jesus and religion and heaven and hell and the devil lately. We talk about why people want to believe, what kind of good it does (and so far, we have largely avoided what kind of harm it does), and how it is hard to believe in a man sitting in the sky, but not too hard to believe that there is something we don't understand, because nature is so awe-inspiring and so amazing and that it's hard to think in geologic terms.

I remember once, as a teenager, sitting in a shallow river bed as cold mountain melt washed over me, little river rocks shifting under me and algae and pike minnows and abrasive sand, and the sky was as high and light and pale and far as it ever seemed, and the water made a communicative song, and I believed that there could have been magic, maybe.

I love Shakespeare, and for a 500-year-old dude, he managed to hit the nail on the head a lot. I've always liked the line in Hamlet that goes, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

And also, the line of poetry of Whitman's that goes, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes."

So perhaps you will understand that one of the reasons I will find it easier to let you go, I feel I have you to thank for. One week before your due date, I feel like you gave me a birthday present. Ridiculous. Impossible. But I feel it, nonetheless. So thank you. And happy birthday.

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