We sat in the sand, our eyes to the sun. The cool breeze flew and danced in tiny circles around us, just strongly enough to make sure our hair never stayed as put in place as we wanted. The waters crawled up in suds and salt, pulling back down all they could into the deep unknowingness that is the sea.
We loved that in-between-tides feeling, when we’d rub our feet in the sand-turned-mud, our footprints sticking to the earth like plaster, a trace of ourselves. We’d look at those footprints, all different sizes, and the way they changed the sand. And in that moment, before the ocean came back to claim its own, we saw those footprints and that we were powerful. We looked at the changing sands and saw they could be molded.
Today I see the world as it is, and not as it was or will be. I see the physicality and the culture and the people that all make up my lens of normal. I see the graveyard and the stones that are ever increasing in number, and I am sure that when the owners of those headstones lived, they, too, saw the world as it was and not as it would be in my time.
But, in a way, aren’t they the holders of the reasons of why my world is its way? Aren’t they, too, footprints, many, many footprints, each of which, for better or for worse, shifted the sands and composition of my world- the way it would look and feel and the things that would be important?
Each of these footprints, distinct in a way. Each a custom and one of a kind design. And every one of these footprints with their own mark to make, and marks that have changed the world, in unique, individual ways.
Every one of these footprints with a gift.
It may be romantic to say we would feel the hole, had one of these persons, with their own gift and footprint, not come to be. Maybe we’d be none the wiser; maybe the living cannot feel the cosmic gap when a soul goes missing who never fully was.
But the hole would still be there.
Our footprints, so different, so like our souls. Each with a shimmering glow and a precious gift. Some flash and glitter, and some glow contentedly, some need coaxing, and some buried deep behind a pain too thick.
These footprints, these souls, some used so well and some like fools. Kings and thieves, nurturers and murderers, artists and erasers, givers and takers, all with a footprint and soul. And all, for better or for worse, molded their plots of world and left it a little bit changed.
Across the street in my own plot of world sits a neat, brick, unassuming building with the name of Planned Parenthood. Neighbors say they are heroes, dedicated to empowering women and standing up for rights.
This year, across the street and around the town, 927 babies were purposely taken out of the world before they could be in it. I guess Planned Parenthood is a euphemism for not yet parenthood even though you already are a parent. And I guess, across the street, to empower a woman means to silence another.
This little brick building has many arguments to keep its case upright.They fill that case one by one like a bookshelf, one saying its okay to not let a life into the world if it was created by mistake, one saying it is okay if the baby will be disabled, one saying it’s okay if this little life was made from violence or assault.
And I guess those reasons would be okay, if we weren’t dealing with tiny little people. It’s funny, how we say these aren’t really babies yet, when they are already in formation, and, if left alone, would become exactly that.
Because the thing is, there are 927 missing lives in my neighborhood, whose cry will never be heard, whose laugh never enjoyed, gift never received, footprint never felt.
Everyone with a gift, these tiny little footprints included.
And the universe, with holes even bigger than the ozone, sighs as these tiny little footprints are never given the chance to make their mark.
They are still living, these 927 footprints; I very much believe that. And they will make their mark elsewhere. And most of us, I guess, will not notice their absence.
But could we humans see into the realm of what might have been, had we let them live, what they could have done, given, become, or changed, I think we would feel not a twinge, but a chasm of loss, right down to our bones. And I think we would cry with the deep, heart wrenching, earth shaking sobs of a mother in mourning to let the children come.
Everyone with a gift. We are the living, until the sea pulls us back. Dare we use ours?