He’s tall, over six feet, and wide.
As I waddle past him to enter the grocery store, he grins at the sight of my ninth month swelling belly.
Though there is clearly enough space for all two-almost-three of us to fit through the corridor, he presses himself against the wall to show (exaggerated, unnecessary) consideration. “Congratulations,” he smiles.
I smile back. “Thank you,” I respond, biting my tongue from saying more.
Congratulations he says to congratulate me for being pregnant, but I want to correct him with bshaa tova, at the right time, Gd willing.
Congratulations sounds so final, so self-rewarding, so self-sufficient.
Does he have the words to say what he really means?
May things continue I yearn to correct him, except of course when it’s may things change. Mazel tov, may the good from above continue to flow.
The only certainty I have is that I am being led. The only strength I have is knowing I have Greatness behind me.
When I first experienced birth, I understood death. Here’s how easily we arrive, here’s how easily we can go.
When a pregnant woman prepares herself to retire to an isolated room, accessing a hidden part of herself to create a child, she does so with a paradoxical sense of omnipotence and extreme vulnerability.
With my rounded belly and a stretching ball of baby flesh, I also exist in that paradoxical realm. At any moment, things could change.
I have my suitcase packed like the Chofetz Chaim did, ready to greet the messiah at any moment. Half in, half out. Fully in, fully out.
And he’s telling me congratulations? Like it’s that easy?
I resist the urge to grab him by his arms and shake him, whispering,
“Will you think of me, when my body starts to contract and expand against my will? Will you reach out to the one who sustains us and storm the heavens that He continues to?”
Instead, straddling life and death, I am patient. I smile at the man, because he wants to be nice.
If the reality of this world is a very narrow bridge, at the end of the day, being on a very narrow bridge with someone sharing their sprinkle cookies with you, metaphorically speaking, makes it that much better. Even if the other doesn’t even realize you’re on a narrow bridge and you’re flipping out because you know it and think about it way too often.
Truly, we are being led. But at the end of the day, the kindness of shared sprinkled cookies is still where it’s at.
Kindness is the makif that makes this world tolerable. It is that which releases oxytocin into a mother’s bodies so that the baby feels safe to come out. Kindness is expansive, powerful, and breaks boundaries. Kindness is where we must begin before we break it down to the particulars.
So thanks, random dude. Thanks for the congratulations.
May all the good in our lives continue to flow.