The Ripple Effect
A letter to my daughter.
I’m sitting by the side of a lake; our home for a few, blissful July days. A pair of herons make their graceful ascent from the water, up, over the trees and out of sight. Willows stoop to meet their reflections. An abundance of Water Boatmen paddle effortlessly across the surface, making walking on water look like the most natural thing in the world.
Carp (at least I think that’s what they are…I’m no fisherman) occasionally leap out of the water making me jump (are they meant to do that?!). Disturbing the peace yet also bringing it.
The water ripples. Concentric circles reaching far and wide. Their effect is mesmerising. Tranquility resonating across the lake to each bank. Practical too; the ripples help ensure that this particular man-made lake does not become stagnant.
It’s almost 7 years since you disturbed my peaceful life. I had it all in order.
Capability Brown had expertly landscaped my dreams. My home, my family, my life.
Everything was coming up roses and all my ducks were happily in a row.
Then you arrived, with your extra chromosome.
In a flash. Like that carp leaping out of the water.
I was not prepared. My peace was disturbed. My calm, tranquil, ordered life disappeared. Or so I thought.
I saw you there, suddenly in the centre of everything. Thrashing around, fighting for breath, fighting for your very life in those first few, terrifying weeks.
A shocking moment. One that lasted much longer than it should have, I am ashamed to say. I questioned whether you should be here at all. Was this in the design?
“Didn’t you take the test?” I was asked on more than one occasion. A mixture of pity and disbelief on the faces of those who asked this most insensitive of questions.
Yet nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. There is no test for that.
The far reaching, calming and breathtakingly beautiful ripples of your very existence.
Nothing prepared me for the joy you would bring to our lives and the lives of countless others whom you meet. The laughter you bring. The smiles you so freely give.
Nothing prepared me for the restorative air you would help me learn to breathe. Deep, satisfying, life giving oxygen. I could go to the finest health resort in Switzerland and still not breathe air of such quality.
Nothing would prepare me for the tranquility that surrounds you.
A tranquility that has nothing whatsoever to do with noise or indeed the lack of it.
How could it? You are so noisy and your life is filled with chaos! Even as I write, the natural tranquility of just being by a beautiful lake has been brutally broken. Broken by the need to perform an emergency feeding tube change on you. Yours has broken. It keeps you alive as you cannot yet eat.
My heart is racing, my hands shaking. Life is fragile and yours particularly so.
No. The tranquility that surrounds you, that you carry, is to be found by seeing the world through your eyes.
You already knew about ripples. You were born to understand their power, their beauty.
Your intelligence is unintelligible to some people. Dawkins and his like couldn’t begin to understand. They are still merely gasping for air.
I notice there are bulrushes on this lake. I’m reminded of another baby. One that in biblical times, was hidden by its heartbroken mother in a basket and placed among some bulrushes. Someone wanted that baby, along with many others, dead.
There are those who think you should not be alive. They’ve even developed a way to help detect your extra chromosome long before you are born. A test, they say, that will tell a mother all she needs to know so that you or people like you need not be born at all.
They see the disturbance, but they do not see the ripples. They have no test for them. No test for joy. No test for all that makes up a person’s life. The test they have is deficient.
And I am forever in your debt for disturbing my world and bringing me great tranquility.