How does it make any sense? How does it comfort me, your rubbery smile that you express with your whole little tiny body, your arms, legs, flailing in delight, your eyes like the sunrise?
“It’s like he’s fond of us,” I say. “It’s the weirdest thing. There’s fondness in his smile.”
I feel like you know me, little boy, I feel like those baby-blue eyes of yours are inexplicably old, set in your brand-new face.
And who am I talking to, anyway? To you, Abba, or to the baby bearing your name?
Let me talk to you, then, Abba. If you don’t mind. If you can spare the time to listen.
Or is time meaningless where you are? Is it nothing but a human creation for the very human need for things to happen first, second, and then third, with the third thing being a result of the first and the second things?
I don’t know about any of that stuff. I don’t really know how any of this works. All I know is that when we named him after you the one who had been the baby of the family eight days before needed my attention and when I heard them announce your name the tears that came to my eyes were less about that and more just the vague results of happiness mixed with exhaustion and because I hated to hear my baby cry.
And then there were the dazed weeks, the weeks of transitioning from three kids to four and feeling like I love them all so much but oh G-d help me they’re everywhere and they sense just when I pour myself a mug of hot coffee or finally close my eyes. I wasn’t doing too much thinking then, and anyway he was just “baby,” or “sweetie” you see, too small to carry something as big as a name, but now…
Now Baruch is smiling.
How does it make any sense, the comfort I feel?
I confess that I needed comfort because my friend’s father came to visit and I was jealous because there he was and there you weren’t, so I gave them a heartfelt bracha in my head like I always do when I am unfairly envious of someone else’s good fortune.
So, anyway, Abba, past my shameful human frailties—if there is such a thing as past human frailties—when I hung up the phone with my friend, I walked over to your picture, ostensibly to dust it because it suddenly needed dusting and tears sprang to my eyes.
I miss you. I miss you miss you miss you, but the memories of you are interwoven with the words that I’ve written about you and became trite almost, reduced to catchphrases and things to tell the children about their Sabba whom they barely remember.
But thankfully no turn of phrase could ever really describe your smile, Abba, the one you wore through it all. (And you’ve been through it all.) So I think, sometimes, not about who you were or what you’ve done but just about your smile, about the warmth and fondness found in your hard-earned smile.
But back to my linear, limited story where things happen first and second and then third with the first and second causing the third—because that’s the only way I know how to tell a story Abba, so please forgive me— there I was, crying.
And there he was, the baby bearing your name, and he was smiling at me, his first smile, smiling fondly with his eyes and mouth and arms and legs, his whole body one big smile.
And how does it make any sense—it doesn’t make any sense—
The comfort that floods all through me when I bask in the glow of my Baruch’s smile.