A Child Not Her Own

Staring into those deep brown eyes, she gazes down at her baby’s adorable little face and smiles at him. He’s been hers now for two months. Two months only. How has it passed already? It seems only yesterday the labor pains took her body and racked it with excruciating sensations. It was far worse than she had imagined it would be. With no one there to help her who knew anything about it, she had managed as best she could. Now, as she holds him, he coos at her in gratitude. He has just fed, taking nourishment from her body and is satisfied.

She notes once again how he has her likeness in some features- the ears and full lips are definitely hers. But otherwise, she stares into the face of a stranger. Whose eyes are those that gaze fixedly at her with such love and adoration? Whose fingers grasp hers with such strength for one so little? She is awed by him, this little one who is wholly hers while not belonging to her at all. Running her fingers through his chestnut brown curls, she looks over at her husband. He sits smiling at the picture of the two of them. No one would know the child wasn’t his at all.

She recalls how he had paced in anticipation for the child to crown, how he cried as she cried, and soothed her as best as he could. His anxiety was just as rich as it would have been had the child been his. She remembers the tears of joy he wept as he held the baby up for her to see, how he gently cleaned him off, placed him upon her chest, and kissed her sweat-soaked forehead. If he had ever had doubts before, they were replaced with unconditional love now.

Looking back at the baby now resting in her arms, she thinks of the future. The uncertain certainties that this small child will endure. She closes her eyes and wills her thoughts away from that place. The place in her heart where she knows she will lose him, that he will be taken away from her. The place where she tucks away knowledge too agonizing to face. The place that causes her more pain than his birth.

Holding him a bit more snuggly, she kisses his cheek- that soft cheek that is to be marred and beaten. She caresses his head- that head that is to be crowned in thorns. She holds his hand, letting his finger grasp her own- that hand that is to be pierced by a Roman nail. Though the details are uncertain to her, there is the agonizing certainty that she will lose him. Lose him for a purpose far greater than her mind can imagine.

She doesn’t know why it was she who was chosen, but holding this precious child, her heart is filled with joy. Rather than laying him down, she holds him safe in her arms knowing that she can only do so for so long.