He wasn’t very large when I sang him his first aria. My younger newborn twin, our baby B, was in the NCCU with a then-mysterious ailment. He wiggled toward me and called out, “Ma!” when I shuffled into the room, my belly bound, my feet swollen in the aftermath of twins. I wrapped him in a silk scarf and held him over my heart.
My heart and he were friends. He had lived under my rib cage for months. He was part of the music of my body. We couldn’t feed him milk, so I gave him songs. It was one of those blurs in time when I was glad to have the big voice for which composers wrote the sad songs.
Verdi wrote his lullabies. In a nursery of beeps and soft spoken nurses with caring hands, I sang my tiny boy love songs. I hoped the music would reach through his pain and exhaustion and spin on through his heart and race through his healing wounds to mend him. My babies couldn’t touch for nearly two weeks, but that strong little boy recovered quickly. He came home.
I still sing to him as I sing to all of the children. But for baby B, the music is urgent with gratitude.
He wakes up every morning and sings his own song now. “Ever, ever, ever! Agi(os) agi agi!” His voice cracks with joy, cracks through the layers of my stony heart. I break every day, dropping words that clatter or bang. But in the mornings, before the sun, my boy and I sing. In the mornings, we remember.