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Linda’s Letters: Bliss

By Linda Koehler

(To Wade from Great-Aunt Linda)

He has had a very busy morning in “the office,” what his grandmother jokingly calls his activity saucer. After spinning the wheel with lots of noise, battling with the pyramid blocks, he finally becomes so frustrated with “The Fish,” (with whom he has a love/hate relationship,) that he kind of has a mini-meltdown.

It’s time for a change of scenery.

Nothing helps him “decompress” more than a walk outdoors.

It has an immediate calming influence on him. He is so in awe of everything he sees.

I try to put myself in his place and look at the world around me with a 5-month-old’s perspective.

The leaves fascinate him. Is it the beauty of the many hues of the color green against the baby blue of the sky? Is it the gentle movement of them as the late spring breeze ruffles them?

I strap him in his stroller and tell him what his mommy always says, “We’re going on an adventure!”

As we trek on down the driveway, my memory is stirred to similar spring days over 41 years ago. The strollers have changed from the Cadillac he is in today to the simplistic foldaway umbrella stroller I pushed my infant daughter in on our adventures.

Her favorite song that I sang to her then, when outdoors seeing new vistas, would get her little legs pumping with excitement. I sing it now for Wade. “Horsey Horsey on your way, we’ve been together for many a day. So let your tail go swish, and your wheels go round, Giddy up, we’re homeward bound.”

My great-nephew, the grandson of my heart, is familiar with it because I’ve been singing it to him since he was born. He becomes still … listening and seeing.

And oh, what we hear and see!

Big trucks rumble on the highway. Birds sing songs only they know the words to. An airplane (such a wonder in itself!) roars high up in the heavens. A dog barks inside a house, maybe because he sees us and would love to join us. A wild turkey calls out.

Who can keep from grinning when a bright red cardinal flies from one side of the road to the other? A blue jay swerves into view, scolding us for disturbing him. When I point these out to Wade, is he seeing them or just responding to my enthusiasm? Is he just content to see something besides his safe, familiar but closed world of indoors?

The walk is almost over. I search for a nice sunny spot in the backyard because it’s a cloudy day and a little on the cooler side. I sit in a comfy lawn chair. Wade contents himself with one of his favorite toys. Every so often, his gaze will flick upward to a tree, and his whole body quiets as he watches hypnotically the leaves as they dance in the air.

After a bit, he begins to fret.

I lift him out and we both settle in a position comfortable to us both. We talk. We sing. We play “Patty Cake.” We learn a new game. I notice him watching my hand. I make up a silly little ditty raising one finger at a time. When I reach the fifth finger, I quickly fold them all in a fist. He laughs. So of course, I do it again. And again. And again many times, because every time the fingers disappear, he laughs. I remember now how as a young mother, I would do anything to see my daughter’s sweet toothless smile, so wide her whole face would crinkle in delight. I do this now for Wade. I don’t know how long he would remain enchanted with this new game but my much older fingers are beginning to protest in discomfort.

I resort to something less strenuous and begin to sing “You are my sunshine” in a soft, slow cadence. Wade’s little head slowly comes to rest on my shoulder. His sweet baby body becomes heavier as he slips into a deep slumber.

His soft wispy hair tickles my face from the air blowing soft kisses.

His extremely long eyelashes rest peacefully against his cherub cheeks.

His perfect little lips move sometimes as if sucking on an imaginary source of nourishment.

What is he dreaming of? Surely all his visions must be of the love he is showered with from everyone he touches.

Can anyone ever hold a sleeping baby and not feel peace?

Out of nowhere, a word forms in my heart and scoots upward and I softly utter it aloud … “Bliss.”

This is bliss.

How often in our lifetime do we have such pure moments?

We remain in this position for over an hour.

Does he feel my heart beat under his cheek?

Does it make him feel safe and loved?

Is this bliss for him?

We older moms tell younger moms every chance we get … enjoy this time with your babies. It is so fleeting.

I’m going to try to take that advice very seriously with Wade. And for any other tiny being that may come into our family as it grows.

Moments of perfect bliss make such heartwarming memories.