Wait Training

There is a place of quiet rest...
There is a place of quiet rest...

So now what?

We are home, parts of us, and act foolishly as if we will just pick up where we left off.

But the universe is altered. There has been a startling, oppressive shift in the density of matter. A vastly dense, penetrating gravitational pull has overtaken our world since a mere eight days ago. The center of this flawed and terrible physics pulses from a singularity lying perfectly still in a dark monitor-filled room in a Missouri hospital.

Because of it, an anvil rests just behind the sternum. If you had thought that “heavy heart” was merely a descriptive alliteration, know that it is in fact an altered cosmological property of grief. I am learning.

This massive weight bears down especially on one struggling life, mercifully unaware; on two who can only watch and very occasionally touch; and on a near orbit of solar-system kin who feel the pull even from a distance. And surprisingly–as if it were a discovery that should take me by surprise–there is a galaxy beyond us become visible, thousands of tiny more distant points of light, both named and unknown, whose orbits have been altered by this small pink center of one family’s universe, perturbed in their wobble and spin, their tides and climate by the extraordinary pull of one tiny baby.

The Greater Force for many of these distant living planets comes from an energy and bonding force that is invisible–Dark Matter’s opposite, perhaps–that connects them with Baby Henry. It is a wave-particle called Faith that they detect, know and transmit. By it, those hearts through Hubble lenses see beyond the visible, beyond mere matter, past the edge of The Present and that which can be measured. And given those collective forces for Good in this small life, things change in ways we will someday understand. But not yet.

Meanwhile, the weight seems such that nothing can move against it. And yet it has.

In Missouri for our short stay, I watched my son and daughter-in-law, my wife and daughter lift that heavy load waking moment after waking moment. And we grew stronger, apart and together. I was amazed. It is a kind of weight training no one would undertake on purpose, but when it becomes a cosmic duty nourished by the energy of a constellation of Light and Hope, I can now see how one might grow muscle, sinew, strength and a fumbling kind of agility. Or not. It is a wonderful, dangerous, perplexing, enlightening time.

From yesterday’s CaringBridge entry by Nathan…

…His wonderful nurses, who at the moment were tending to us as much as to Henry, also let us wet his lips and put lotion on his hand (both of us took turns, as if he needed that much lotion!).  While little in his charts had changed, the power of touch filled us with new hope and an even deeper love for Henry.  We hope he felt it too.

We also got to see his big blue eyes, as the nurse momentarily took his blinders off to wash his face…

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I haven’t created a login for the website, it seems so personal. However, it is painstakingly evident in what you post here that the situation is extreme. I can only offer my thoughts and prayers and say that the nurses that work in the nicu that I know in this area are amazing – to work there they HAVE to be. Knowing that and keeping the Faith alive will hopefully get everyone through this difficult time. I send love your way and to missouri.

  2. Fred and Ann and family my thoughts and prayers for you continue and the circle of love grows as friends of friends pass on the request for prayers for all.

  3. I have been thinking about your beautiful grandson since you posted last. I don’t know what’s in store for him or for you all, but like I said yesterday, the child of a guy who walked halfway across the country just because he could – bound to be a fighter. I’m praying like crazy that you’ll still be blogging when he graduates from college.

  4. Fred,
    I continue to pray for baby Henry and you all.

    Your words–pressed out by the weight of the world–are extraordinary. Thank you for continuing to share. I hope that your writing will be therapy for you, as it is for us.