By Garret Rhea
My mother always told the story with tears in her eyes.
“It was Magic!” she would cry, her dark hair bouncing as she threw her head back.
“The wind wove its melody just for you that night young one.” She laughed and poked me.
“But it was your grandfather who made the magic”
9 years had gone by since the night my grandfather died. It was also the night I was born. He apparently had planned it that way, which most people don’t understand, but that’s because they haven’t heard my mother tell the story. The way she tells it almost brings him back to life, like he’s in the very room, watching, listening, nodding his head.
I’m a bit different from the other children, especially if the story is to be believed. Most of them find their happiness by playing video games and mocking each other, while I prefer to walk, to think, to create. I always seem to create some version of the same thing, and though I don’t know what it means, I even wrote it on a canvas once when I was 7.
“Order of out chaos.”
It’s always order out of chaos. And when I ask my mother what it means, she just looks at me and smiles. She tells me I’ll find out when I’m ready, and that it’ll be what I love most. In the end, the only thing that I’ll love. I tell her I understand. But I don’t.
Tonight she is going telling the story to some friends. They are all drinking wine and listening as though the story were their own. She begins with a silent pause, which she uses to look up, and smile.
“My father knew many years before I had Sonela that he would pass on the day of his birth. He was cautious about sharing this notion with me, understandably, as when he finally did tell me I reacted quite poorly. I was shocked that he could make such peace with dying, and at the moment when I am to bear a child, a child that will never know its grandfather. To this he smiled in a way I didn’t understand, but I do now. Boy do I ever.” She said with a laugh. The others were settled in and comfortable, and I sat on the floor by a fire that purred comfortably, quite enjoying its home in the fireplace.
“It was always a little part of my mind. When I found a man that I loved , one who made my world complete, I couldn’t escape the idea that when we finally did have a child, I would have to sacrifice my father. You see he was so sure that I eventually accepted it. It was the look in his eyes, and the way he smiled. He was such a smart man, a literal guru of his time. He brought happiness to those whose eyes he caught for even a moment. People were changed just by the gravity of his gaze. And so I accepted it, and had a child. I told my husband of course, and he was no less impervious to my fathers loving eyes than I was. We had Sonela 9 years ago, and my father died at my side.”
The looks on the faces of our guests were enough to tell her that she need not pause, though the time was appropriate.
“The 8 months after we discovered my pregnancy were filled with 2 types of rituals, those of the doctors in the hospital, and those of my father. His were considerably more interesting and infinitely more influential on Sonela’s life. They were filled with music, soft as a whisper when it needed to be, and incense, and art. My father would draw on my stomach and whisper wisdom after each line of every symbol, telling me that they had worked their way through far less transparent walls than those of my womb. We spent time meditating, facing each other, and he would chant incantations meant to link our two minds, and even young Sonela’s as well. As the time grew nearer, these incantations changed, their purpose became solely to connect his mind to Sonela’s, forming a bond that would ultimately guide the last moments of my fathers time on earth. When the day finally came, he had the same smile on his face, and the wind seemed to literally carry him on his path, as though every single piece of this world were on his side. He had asked that I give birth to Sonela at home, a request I readily agreed to. As he knelt by my bed and lit a candle, he told me the things people say before they die, if they are given the chance. That he loved me, and was proud of the way I had always stood up to challenges, even when those around me caved. But most of all, he was proud of all I had learned from the world around me. He said most people walk through their entire life, and never see even a moment of real beauty. And it was for this that he was most proud. And when this last word crossed his mouth, I felt the first wave of contraction, and he held my hand.”
Her friends had begun to cry openly, and comfortably. It was a beautiful sound, their tears making rivers for the light from the fire to dance in.
“The time passed quickly and his breath began to change. He began to vibrate even, his eyes the only thing that remained still. And then they began to glow. It was soft at first, like the glow of the moon rising through heavy clouds. But then he lifted his arms to the sky and sang, sang a song I had never heard before, and his eyes lit the room with a white light tinted as though it had been born of blue. Then he looked at me and smiled, that smile that melts the world, and touched his forehead to mine. He closed his eyes to shield mine from the light, and I felt it stream into my consciousness, warming my senses, and clearing my thoughts. I felt the final contraction and screamed. I screamed my heart out to the sky. He drew one final symbol on my stomach, and knelt to kiss it with his forehead. Ant then he passed away.”
Even I am crying with our guests at this point, but not for the same reason. I’ve finally understood the pieces that have been eluding me. When my grandfather melded his consciousness with mine, I inherited some of his life’s questions, as well as answers to countless more. It is him I have to thank for my paintings, for my music, for my mind and spirit. It is also to him that I owe this burning desire to know infinity.
I look my mom in the face and smile. She bursts into tears and covers her mouth, sobbing and laughing at the same time. She turns to her friends, and says,
”And there’s the smile that started it all.”
A small slice of a dream, the passage of life through time.