A Stitch in Time
The stitchery kit, stretched upon its frame, stands neglected in the corner where my idle hands placed it weeks ago. I could not concentrate, I said. I'll finish it later.
As the days passed I walked the floor anxiously, awaiting a change, a feeling, any sign of readiness. I passed the picture many times and almost worked on it, but it required such steady hands, such patience; and so it sat there unfinished, with many-colored yarn strewn about on the carpet.
It was a harvest scene, a front porch with steps, a window and door. A pumpkin stood sentinel over a basket of corn and apples spilled onto the sidewalk. Perhaps the lady of the house was canning when something interrupted her.
A tiny, cranking, relentless noise grows stronger. I stagger to the semi-darkened nursery. A dark little head bobs about on uncertain shoulders. I pick him up and marvel at how wide awake he is, all warm and cuddly, at such an early hour of the morning. Through bleary eyes I make the change from wet to dry despite the squirming, kicking little legs, and feet with toes spread wide.
Cradling him in my arms, I sink heavily into the old rocker with well-worn cushions misshapenly padding the hardness. A few more seconds of anxious seeking and he nurses tensely, his arms held straight down to his sides, his whole body straining to this drive to eat.
As tummy fills he relaxes and waves his little arm above his head in a ritual, curling and uncurling his fingers with a natural grace no choreographer could dream. His blue, long-lashed eyes study my face, his gaze steady. Fullness spreads and warms and he relaxes, his eyes faltering. I raise him to my shoulder and pat his back to bubble him. Success! but still, the little head held erect, he searches the stillness of the room, his expressive eyes filled with uncertainty, his tiny hands grasping my sleeve.
With my slow, plodding rocking and unsteady hum, he gradually sinks to sleep on my shoulder. I look about the room and see it there in the corner, that unfinished picture of an empty porch, the basket still untended on the sidewalk. Now, in my imagination's eye, I can see beyond the door and understand.
The signal came; the rush; the exquisite agony finally over, leaving a blur like that of emerging from a darkened tunnel. Then came the spreading joy, the growing bond, the sense of need to serve, to care for, dwarfing all other needs to do, to accomplish, to excel. The lady of the house has abandoned her work to retire to the peace and tranquility of the nursery for a brief, heaven-filled interlude of holding and feeding, of closeness and warmth. The corn and the apples will still be there. The stitchery will still wait. For busy hands will shape and mold a larger picture than this. The door holds its secret inside, but so, the door of the future for this child. I rock, basking in the peace, grasping at the moment and holding it fast, hoping to make it stand still like that scene caught in the picture, all peaceful, secure and unhurried.