Dan Szczesny found a bit of sunshine in a time of thunder and chaos.
You’re up, again, at 5 a.m., needy. I lift you out of your crib and pace the cold floor in the dark, and you look up at me, quiet, awake, teary-eyed. Like you’re waiting for something. And then I remember. Today is your 1st birthday and now, almost to the minute, is the time when you came, the time of thunder and chaos. The time when we had everything, and almost lost it all.
And the thought of those days, now exactly one year ago, makes my legs go weak and I sit in the rocking chair, and left with no other spell to ward off the darkness, I sing, just as I did to you in the hospital nursery when you were only an hour old.
“You are my sunshine…”
I sing this because back then, I knew no other song, knew of no other protection for you, for your mother, as we waited to hear our fate, alone, you swaddled in my arms, your heat and breath on my cheek.
“My only sunshine…”
And even now, one year later, those moments are so vivid I can feel the hard slats of that hospital rocking chair against my back, the squeak of it on the linoleum, the blinding lights and windows and the nurses’ concerned looks, trying to distract me, to keep me calm.
“You make me happy when skies are grey…”
And how even then, only minutes old, I could feel how strong you were, how strong you’d be. I drew on that strength; seven pounds of soft flesh that in those solitary, confusing few moments was the only thing that grounded me to sanity. Was I singing to you? Was I singing to your mother? Was I praying?
“You’ll never know dear, how much I love you…”
Now, as then, your eyes flutter and you sigh, like you know what day it is. Are you protecting me again?
“Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
But unlike then, we are here, the three of us. One year on. And as the darkness turns to day, I keep you tight against my chest as you fall asleep and I listen, grateful, to the stirs of your mother, who is safe. One year on, baby. I don’t know if you know, but I think you do, that you are our sun and moon and stars.
Happy Birthday, darling, and thank you. May you always burn like the sun and explode like thunder!