I related how focusing only on his breath and my own as I held him against my heart for hours had calmed me while conjuring a hazy memory suffused with similar sensations and how Merlin's first purr since I picked his limp body up hour's earlier had cleared the haze.
Then I wrapped up the post saying I'd share that memory later.
Memories, I should say. For one by one and then in a flood memories from my 'tween, teen and early twenties engulfed me. Memories of holding babies.
In my extended family and in our church community both local and among the affiliates scattered between San Diego and Rock Glen Canada, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, I had become known by age eleven as the girl with the magic touch. I could calm the fussiest baby or toddler and get them to eat, submit to diaper changes or sleep--whichever was needed.
When asked what my secret was, I said I didn't know. And I didn't. My secret was a secret even from me. Until now.
Now I know that it was my ability to calm myself by focusing only on the baby's breath and mine as I instinctively tried to synchronize them while my spirit was suffused with the joy of their presence and the honor of tending to their needs.
Whether I was on the couch in a family's living room among conversing adults or playing children, in a rocking chair in a quiet room or walking a figure eight around the two sections of 200+ seats in the auditorium at our Thanksgiving Bible Conference held at the Red Bluff fairgrounds, I was focused only on that baby, wanting only his contentment but also aware that if I failed to calm him, his Mama or Daddy or Grandma would reclaim him.
During those years babies were my passion. Whenever I was around them I could think of nothing else. Not the story I was currently writing or the one I was reading or the TV show I might be missing to accept the babysitting job, not my homework or the next day's math test, not the last Bible Meeting dismissed two hours ago or the next starting in fifteen minutes signaled by the piano player on the stage softly practicing hymns, nor the cousins whose companionship I'd craved in the weeks leading up to conference, not my ever growing swarm of anxieties, not even my own hunger as I took charge of her littlest so a mama could go through the long cafeteria line with her older children and eat her meal in (mostly) peace with her extended family who were most likely scattered among half a dozen states.
All of that was lost when I married Ed at 21 and with high hopes of having my own inside of a year, abandoned all the babies in my life--the dozen plus families I regularly babysat for, the church community I'd been born into and its 4X weekly meetings and four annual conferences--to move with him to Oceanside, California near Camp Pendleton where he was stationed.
Ed was the only one I knew in that big city full of raucous Marines on leave. I was terrified every waking moment and woke from nightmares nearly every night. And because I had not been aware of how I'd been calming myself in order to calm the babies, I had no functional coping mechanism when events spiraled into chaos.
This post spiraled out of control. I spent several hundred words relating those events and there was no end in sight as each memory was like a bead on a string being pulled up out of the muck. With them included this post had lost its focus so I transferred them to another draft but unless I find a focal point for a post that makes it more than a list of woes I'll move them to my personal journal.
Something has opened up inside me that is driving this memory dredging and the way the insights seem to be clinging to them indicate it is important to let it continue but not necessarily in the raw on Joystory.