by Karyn Thurston
When you were new, you slept only on my chest - head on my heart, curled to mimic the now hollow space that you'd occupied for months. I would have stayed awake all night, every night, just to keep you there, if only I were something more than human, something stronger than the need for rest and food and the usual rhythms of life. But you are the child of a human mama, so you learned to sleep on your dad while I rested, then next to us, then on your own.
We emerged from our newborn cocoon, and suddenly there were other arms to hold you, stronger, better rested arms that arrived willing and open and full of love for you, and for your sleepy eyed parents, who handed you carefully into the waiting arms and showered, and napped, and embraced each other.
Your family held you, and then our friends, our chosen family, and there was gratitude and laughter, and you grew and you learned their phrases and mannerisms and ways. And I cried happy tears over all the things they will teach you, your village, your family, your home. I, your human, sleep-craving, imperfect mama, celebrated the gift of a village to carry you.
Gratitude is the words your grandfather whispers to you as you ride on his back, as he carries you into forests full of stories. Gratitude is your sleeping head on your uncle's shoulder, your aunt dancing you to sleep after texting me a proud picture of you securely snuggled in your carrier, her first time, her proud success. Gratitude is your grandmother showing you through stores as you ride on her hip, and your sleepy happy toddler self when each of them returns you to me.
Gratitude is you dreaming, still, years later, in the same place on my chest - your head on my heart, my heart in your hand.
Happy Thanksgiving, LÍLLÉ friends! Wishing you and your village the warmest and best.