For Ashton

Ashton Slane Oppelt

It is morning. I am not quite awake. Standing in the shower, chest to chest and skin to skin with my child, I cradle his bottom with my forearm, feeling the warm water beat against his back and run down my legs to the drain and into the world below.

This is the closest I will come to the feeling of maternal connection — pressing my wet skin to his, quietly murmuring “I love you,” nearly inaudible above the cacophany of pounding water against glass and metal. His ear pressed to my chest, hearing … what, exactly?

Eventually, we’ll turn off the shower and towel off on the cold tile. And this moment is the closest I will come to knowing the pain of anticipated separation (however temporary) from that bond. A feeling that is surely the immense sadness of separation from a child you’ve carried and felt growing — indeed, felt come alive — inside your own body.

Yet, knowing that the same matter (blood, bone, tissue and 4-billion-year-old carbon compounds) that makes up my own body has also been used to build that of my children gives me an indescribable feeling of wholeness and hope. A hope that they may mindfully and soulfully navigate this Universe to whatever distant harbor calls to them. A hope that they will become, exceed and transcend whatever it is that I have been.

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