There are moments in this life, you will find, where you will see purple skies. These moments of the purple skies will have with them golden oceans of barley. It is in these times where I hope you glean all that you can hold against your tiny chest. May you grasp the golden grain and may you reap the beauty of this life. These skies of purple and blonde seas are evidence. Evidence of the one who has crocheted together each nucleotide which has determined the structure your face. A face I haven’t even seen yet.
The most recent occurrence of this phenomenon was a few months ago. We had gone to a medical center, one for ladies who have lives in their stomachs, to find out what gender you are. Your mom was laid back on a chair and they pressed out this blue jelly on her stomach. Then with some device they drug across her lubricated stomach they pulled your silhouette up onto a TV screen.
Through the static I could make out your hand. It looked like a skeleton’s hand. In fact, all of you kind of looked like a skeleton in weird way. I thought it was bad ass.
You were wiggling your fingers, opening and closing your tiny fists. Your tiny bones were connected to other tiny bones. They moved us down to your ribs and they looked like toothpicks. Then to your face which had a Skeletor quality to it. Again, your dad thought it was bad ass. Finally they scanned between your legs and determined that you were a girl. Don’t worry, it was more awkward for us than it was for you.
By the time we left the building the night had turned everything dark. Even though I could not see it, I knew that the stars’ backdrop was a deep purple. Your mother’s hand in the passenger seat next to me felt like a bushel of barley clutched inside of mine.
As we drove home, my mind wandered to when I first heard about you. Your mother and I were living in a very old house without air conditioning in the peak of a Southern California summer. Which is to say, we were living in hell or at the very least, a version of it.
We were freshly married, and honestly we still are. In attempts to combat the heat, we bought a little mobile air conditioner. That unit fought a good fight and ultimately died. As frustration merged with discomfort we decided to stay in a hotel down the street from our house.
This hotel is a very old and our city’s most notable structure. Your mom and I actually stayed there on our wedding night. With that memory in our minds, we conceived you there.
In the air conditioning.
About two weeks or so after that, we were back in that hotbox of a home. Sweat was a constant and so was swearing. Mostly from me, of course. We, your mom and I, were sitting on the couch staring at a phone counting down a five minute timer. When the time expired we went into our one, very small, bathroom and looked down at a plastic wand.
Two lines. Two changed lives.
That night, I went out to have dinner with some friends and watch a football game. The sky was so purple I could barely keep my eyes dry enough to drive. The ocean of barley rolled me and I was lost in the breakers.
Many years ago, before I knew about you or your mom, I moved to Colorado. I couldn’t have been older than nineteen. As you will learn in this life, sometimes we go through things that are so painful we almost don’t make it out alive. When we do, sometimes, we develop habits that are not good. Your dad had a habit like this with drugs.
In hopes and actions to break this habit, I moved out to a very small town in the Rocky Mountains. I lived with my grandpa for several months.
As a kid, I would come visit this grandpa during the summer. During those trips we would hike, whitewater raft, camp, and do all kinds of other outdoor activities. The most important of these, however, was fly fishing.
My grandpa was a fly fishing guide who worked for an outfit located on the Arkansas River. He fished almost everyday and he personally tied all of the flies that he used. In the time we spent together, growing up, he had taught me the basics of the sport. How to cast, how to match my drift correctly, how to stalk the fish, how to use the correct fly, and other disciplines of the like to name a few.
I had been with him for a couple months or so by the time I was given a fly rod by a guy I was working for and a reel from my grandpa. Upon receiving these gifts and a new found sobriety, I spent my afternoons driving up and down the Arkansas river. Each day was a new stretch of virgin river that I would fish and mentally map.
It was one of these afternoons when I first saw the purple skies. The first time I saw the oceans of gold.
The afternoon rain, which is typical for that time of the summer, had just finished its dance. I took shelter under a tree during its five minute performance and sat watching the river. The year that had come prior to that moment had been one of the toughest of my young life. While there were still a few tough ones to come, I took that time to reflect on what that past year.
As I thought about the things that almost killed me I felt the emotions of it all. Alone, and alongside the river, I cried and screamed out at God. In that moment, I felt all of the pain and despair I had been running from. It was glorious, it was intense.
My emotional downpour came to an end about the same time as the rain. As it cleared from the skies all of the gray clouds began to roll back. In their absence, a violent purple bled from the heavens.
All at once, I realized a herd of bighorn sheep had come down from the hills behind me to drink from the river. While I don’t know if they actually noticed me or not, I do know that my presence there did not bother them. I was swallowed and surrounded.
There were probably fifty to seventy-five sheep that had come down to the bank. There were full grown adults with giant twisted crowns of horn. There were little babies with no horns. Together, as if they were really one organism, they grazed over to the bank and drank for a new minutes. Dropping their snouts to the water while others looked out. A beauty and an emotion without a name I know filled my broken soul. As they moved up the river, their dark brown backs together looked like a field of barley being kissed by a gentle wind.
Ruth, people keep on asking me if I am ready to be your dad and I honestly don’t know what to say.
All I can say is that I feel abandoned wings of my soul, that I didn’t even know I had, opening up. I feel emotions moving into the vacant rooms and I feel the dust of youth being swept up. My insides are changing and my heart is becoming soft in a way I can’t explain.
We are naming you after the woman Ruth in the Bible. The one who gleaned from a golden barley field that belonged to a good man. The one who was brave in a world that isn’t always kind to pure things. The one who was loyal and seen by God.
Ruth people keep asking me if I am ready to be a dad and all I can say is that I am filled with hope.
Just like that river from which those sheep drank, we are all just drifting in a current that’s speed was determined far before my time here. I’m happy that we get to float together and I hope that we have many years to do so. I hope that I am known as a good man by you and that you can glean from my fields safely for a long time.
It is my pursuit that I raise you to notice the purple skies of this life, so that you may wonder about their painter. My charge is that you get to dunk yourself in oceans of golden beauty and that you spend your life learning from where they spring. It is my prayer that you fall in love with one who loved you before I knew what love was.
Ruth, I don’t know if I am ready to be a dad but I am ready to do those things. You are my hope.
You are my purple skies. You are the joy I did nothing to deserve, yet I get to glean nonetheless.