Monday, December 5, 2011


As salaam alaikum,

There are moments when I just feel absolute joy, like life could not get any better than that moment. I felt that while on the interview trail, several times...when I walked the beach in Ventura, when I woke up in the morning to "Lift Up Your Hands to the Lord" by Fred Hammond before my interview in Rochester, NY, while watching the plane descend into the most beautiful cumulus clouds as "On the Wings of Love" by Jeffrey Osborne played on my iPod...and so many other moments now forgotten.

I felt the same way as my cousin pulled the blanket from on top of the little car seat and I met my baby cousin for the first time. I looked at her face and gasped with delight, and the little thing raised her eyebrows as she saw my face and a curious smile spread across her face. My cousin told me I could take her out of her seat, and of course I could...I don't know what I was thinking! As I struggled with the car seat, I was reminded that, though I've by now examined tens of babies in pediatrics and family medicine rotations and have delivered maybe 30, I have little experience with babies outside of the medical environment, in their normal habitat. I eventually got her out of the seat through trial and error, and picked her up.

Different from my first exposure to babies at my grandmother and aunt's Islamic School and Day Care, I have since learned how to pick babies up, how to hold them, how to support their head, how to carry them...all from working with so many in medical school. But I think I can count the number of times I've changed a diaper or fed a baby with a bottle still with one hand. But I held her and bounced her and kissed her on the forehead and she smiled and cooed in glee as this new, intriguing person held her in her arms.

Somewhere, my cousin has a picture of me that she took holding the baby, and the look on my face in that picture...I've never seen myself so happy.

I knew this little baby when she was just a concept in her parents' minds. In my life, I've never met a more desired baby, named long before she was viable outside of the womb. She was dressed like a princess, wearing a camouflage bib to match the fatigues her father and older brother were wearing as they graced their presence at an Air Force holiday party. I knew this baby when she was just a desire, a hope, a wish, a prayer, and here she was, a little thing with no idea yet how much she is loved by so many.

So how could I be less than smiling so much when I held her, saw her, heard her little voice for the first time, smelled her, smoothed her hair, wiped the slob from her mouth, played with her little feet, did the Babinski reflex, the grasping reflex and the extinguishing rooting reflex just for fun...

How could I see her as less than amazing? If I like looking at buds on trees in the spring time and admire them for their enormous potential to become the leaves that shade me in the summer, how could I not admire this bebezinha so much for all the potential she carries, unknown to all of us but God in the end.

Sweet, precious, little baby girl in her tutu and lacy socks, her tights with her flat back-to-sleep head that I assured my cousins would go away in time...

I don't think I have ever been happier than in that moment that I met this baby for the first time.

And to know that there will be many more times in my life that will be happier than this, many more babies that will bring me joy just to be in their presence, many more children and adults that will make me happy, many more times of happiness that I will find in myself and in life around me, from small mammals to inanimate objects...

I just have to praise God for the ability to feel so much joy, and the clarity of mind to recognize this joy while filtering out that nay-saying voice that wants me to feel sorrow for what I don't have, that nay-saying voice that wants me to lean more heavily on may not than the may possibilities of my life and to mourn the loss of what I have not yet lost and may never lose.

God, continue to guide me to the good things in this life, as you have already given me so much good without me having to ask for it, without my praying to maintain it, without my foresight to desire it, with my continued ignorance of how good this good is...


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