It was a spring day. Not much unlike this one: warm but not hot. Bright, piercing sun. My mother had been in the hospital for what felt like a long time but probably wasn’t that long in reality. She had been moved to the ICU in just the past day or two. The ICU was dark: either literally or figuratively. I think it really was dark, not that it just felt that way. There were no sounds: no one talking. There was only the whirring and beeping of machines and this feeling of sickness that hung in the air. Hope might be found there, but it was stretched thin. It felt awfully hard to come by.At the same time that my mother was upstairs in the ICU, one of my oldest and dearest friends was just a few floors down in the same hospital having her baby. I had no excuse not to visit. She was but four floors away. I took the elevator down. I remember the elevator doors opening and feeling startled because I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. It was sunlight streaming in from nearby windows. I heard voices and some laughter and the crying and cooing of new voices. There was some stillness, but not the kind that feels like there is no air or hope. The kind of stillness you find when you don’t want to wake a sleeping baby.
I walked into her room. My friend looked great – lovely as ever. She looked like a beautiful, strong, healthy new mom. It felt good to be around strength. I don’t remember who else was in there except her parents. They looked calm and strong and happy and proud. I wanted to wrap myself in it.And then there was my friend Jonah. He was new and pink and wrapped tightly as all babies are and for just a minute, I held him. Even though my own baby at the time was just 4 months old, he felt like a giant next to this new little peanut. I wondered if Dylan had ever been this small, this feathery light. He smelled new. He felt peaceful. He was this new tiny light telling me that this is how it’s supposed to work. New beginnings you are eager to unwrap, goodbyes you don’t want to have. He was my reminder that there was life and sunshine and hope even in the darkest of places.
And the funny thing about my friend Jonah is he is still so much like that. He is silly and happy and funny. And if ever I am feeling down or less than sunny if I turn a corner and I see him there with that grin on his face, well I just know that he’s been sent yet again to remind me to buck up; that there will always be hard things to do, and that there will always be new beginnings to be had.This past weekend was my mother’s yahrzeit. This is the date according to the Jewish calendar that marks her passing. As I said Kaddish (the mourner’s prayer), my heart felt heavy. But then the new week started and the weather warmed. I met my friend Jonah at the park. He flashed me his famous smile and told me a vintage potty joke that only a 5 year old boy can appreciate, and I remembered again that tiny pocket of hope he’d sewn in my heart all those years back to remind me that life is good. Or more importantly just that life is. That I’m still here.
I was grateful for it. I was grateful for him. Happy Birthday Jonah.