I don't expect you to remember or-Rachel Zucker
Your mother spread her energy, hoping you’d grab hold. You’d call it a prayer if she believed any man held sway over her soul. You’d have come a little quicker if you knew the puppies, the cooing faces, the tangy yogurt that was waiting. Reeling after a year of loss, a couple dozen cried & cheered that you’d arrived, and we all lined up to pinch your toes. The house was a mess: three dogs, four chickens, one long-term houseguest, a rennovation still underway. A small country, Mom & Dad presiding, softening corners, harvesting light & leaves, digging out rot long buried. Preparing for you. Lemme tell you something about your dad—he can do anything. I know him to cultivate the heart as deftly as the raspberries you gather each summer. In ways he & I will probably never understand, he built me up. He demanded his love in equal magnitude, and I saw I was worthy, despite the body I hadn't yet learned to love, of the same. He was able to cry, so I was. He put his hand in mine, and I knew it was safe. Helped create this space where I was fully a man, and it meant nothing more or less than In this moment, you are loved. Of your mom, I can say I’ve never seen love so immense. For you, for her enemies, for the soil we must share. She labored over 48 hours, held on so you could be baptized with a promise: new life, perfect from the start, a shield brimming & growing inside, with faith in the urgency of this single life, the world yours to walk through in your own name, everlasting, amen. I would like to say—she was the meeting place, the marriage of the waters. A crossroads at which the vehicles of many homelands met, were parked & broken down, rebuilt in a shape more sleek, more gracious to those we would meet on the road ahead. Monte, I tell you all this because I don't know who else will leave you this record. Because I hope you will understand the depth of your parents' inner lives. Like you, their joy might burst through fingers & toes so they can't control the wiggles. Like you, they rage until numb at the cruelty they can't dismantle. You were conceived in 2016. How else can I say it? I reach into the future to glimpse the man you might be. With what words & actions will you express love? Will you have the courage to fail and embrace the work of humility? How long will you kiss me goodbye? Will you want me around when I’m old? And while I don’t plan to have my own children, I held you in the NICU and maybe felt something close to the fear all parents feel, knowing the pain & choice you’ll face— how it's only the hard way you learn cracking one window might close all your doors. Something like hope, thinking I could stare all day at your ears tucked so close to your head. Watch you discover that you are apart from the world. That you, Monte, have a discrete effect on it & us. That when you look at something, it must be the most beautiful thing in this world in that moment. So Baby Bear, even if you don’t save the world, you’ve already softened a few battered hearts, convinced me this journey is worth enduring— if only to push you on, help you fuck up, giggle at your farts—my godson, my MoCo, my Little Bear, my faith in the mechanisms of community, and medicine, and evolution, and prayer.
for my godson, Monte Wagner Cox
- The epigraph comes from Rachel Zucker's Hours Days Years Unmoor Their Orbits.