Monday, April 13, 2015


My youngest step-son is currently sleeping on the couch in my office, the soft sounds of his breath a steady rhythm.  I could tell he was getting tired during lunch, his eyes blinking blearily and his head softly resting on my shoulder as I held him.  He's usually much more talkative, his piping voice dutifully repeating what his brother and G say, but then he was quiet.  Gene and I looked at each other knowingly, predictions quickly made: "He will probably fall asleep in the car."  Parents of young children know the signs.

We have not known each other long, me and O, but we are learning each others sounds.  I know when he's tired and he knows when I am about to mete out consequences for not eating dinner.  We are finding our way in this new life together, all five of us discovering how to blend our sounds together during the short weekends we have together as a family.  It is its own kind of post-modern symphony, The Life of a Family: highs and lows and sustained laughter whirling together to create a life unexpected.

5 years ago, as I prepared for my son's birth, I did not know how it would sound to have a child.  3 years ago, as I discovered how to be a single mother, I did not know how it would sound to have step-sons.  2 years ago, as I became more sure of my need to get a divorce, I did not know how it would sound to be called wife without it hurting.  My life is full of sounds, of words and breath and shrieks of surprise and rumbling warnings, an endless parade of black notes on the scale of my existence.  

There are new sounds:
early morning whispering between brothers newly made
a front door opened when my husband arrives home from work
my deacon at church telling me, "lets do it", when worship needs to start
the deep chested purring of our newest cat

There are old sounds:
my son's laugh, the same today as many years ago
age old hymns floating through the air on Sunday mornings
the beeping of grocery registers as we stock up for the week ahead
the voices of my parents as they encourage me

Sometimes the sounds of life surround me and I take no time to wonder at their precious peculiarity.  But sometimes, I stop in wonder at how old life and new life spin together in a dizzy dance, how new sounds can be so life-giving, how old sounds can be so life-sustaining.  New will become old and the future sounds of my life have yet to be revealed.  But now?  Now I will cherish slumbering snores, muffled laughter, bath-time conversation, and a million other noises that make a life.

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