When my son Jacob was born, something very beautiful happened. His Mum was being taken care of by the nurses – she needed some attention after the caesarian – so they gave me the baby to hold. I looked into his face for the first time, inhaled his scent and held him close. And kept holding him, as they left me to it for a while.
I found myself alone in a side room with our boy for the first half an hour or so of his life.
Now, to be honest, I was knackered. Not as knackered as his Mum Rachel, obviously, but still. So I did what I shouldn’t really have done and laid down on the bed in there. It was just me and him, undisturbed.
I remember, vividly, the feeling of this little baby lying on my chest, sleeping. My breathing changed to match his and I felt as close to him as I have to anyone, ever.
He’s a long way from me now.
Twenty three years old and living in Cardiff with his beautiful partner Seren, a couple of hundred miles from what I still think of as his home. Lockdown separation is hard, as it is for all of us. His childhood, our time of closeness, felt like it would last forever – but of course it didn’t.
I could get sad about that, but I’d rather celebrate him and learn something positive.
The poet William Blake, writing in the Christian tradition, describes how we can see the big picture in the smallest things. “To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”
I recognise that, in a strange thing that happens when I look at my son’s face and somehow see all the faces of his ages at once, from the baby to the fine young adult.
And that actually tells me something precious about this bigger moment of suspension we are all in right now. Things shift. I’m not as stuck as I think I am.
I may not feel it or be able to see it happening, but when I think of Jacob as a baby and who he is now, I know a change is going to come.