that word again

baby fistI’ve been thinking about love in the last few days, itching and twitching with excitement as I awaited the arrival of a new and blessed human into the clan. She finally came, this great niece of mine with her mop of hair and splendid howling maw, and she’s perfect. She’s gorgeous, of course, but that’s not what I mean. I mean she’s perfect in the way that all babies are perfect, as an emblem and ambassador of all that we long for in this life.

She isn’t merely loved. She’s love embodied. I haven’t had a chance to meet her yet and hold her in my arms, but I already love her and know her as love. I already know that she’s a gift, not just to her parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts and great uncles and great aunts and cousins, but to the world. To everyone else. To all of us here, groping through the everyday with faith that it will lead us somewhere with light and meaning.

Love is a verb and an abstract noun. But it’s also a substance, a thing made tangible and real by living, touching and giving of one another — a thing that sparks to life in the arms of our beloved and grows with each new embrace. We rock our babies, and they become toddlers. We kiss our toddlers, and they become schoolchildren. We hug our schoolchildren, and they go on to high school, then college, then jobs, then marriage, then children and grandchildren of their own, making yet more love out of yet more love in an endless, fractal branching of fertility and hope.

My own three babies, no longer small, are the proof and stuff of love. So was my late husband, this new little girl’s Great Uncle Chris, who made our children with me. So was my late sister Lucy, whose death prompted us to have kids sooner than we’d planned. So are all we love who leave too soon, who cease to be present in this world but never cease to be real, because love never ceases to be real. How could it?

This is the lesson in every baby: that nothing, nothing, nothing is more real than love. Not time. Not loss and pain. Not life itself. That first holy moment cradling a child lasts forever. It is forever. People call parental love unconditional, but it’s more than love without condition; it’s love without end. All love is. All babies are, this one included. She’s love, and she’s loved. And all is right with the world.

13 thoughts on “that word again

  1. Congratulations to everyone in your family on your new bundle of love. A few years ago I had a near death experience (which I’ve yet to adequately write about) and was reminded once again that love is most important. As you say, nothing is more real than love – and we could all do with more of it.

    • Thanks! And Please let me know when you’ve written that, because I need to read it. I was at my father’s side when he lay dying and chatting with my late sister. (He had dementia, and no short-term memory whatsoever, so we hadn’t told him she’d died — as he would have simply forgotten it.) At one point he turned to me and said, with a beatific look on his face, “I’ve had a fantastic expansion of love.”

  2. Beautiful reminder as I await my newest grandchild coming very very soon and still grieve my mother who died too soon at 92.5 her birthday tomorrow and maybe a birth day tomorrow for little one. Thank for lovely words of love

  3. I have two “greats” [nephew and niece] that we love so huge and massive, and it really made me happy to see ” love embodied ” written down…..finally! an apt description! We have big fractures in our families, and these tiny humans seem to make that pain less, put things in a different perspective. Thank you, Wordsmith Amy Biancolli.

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