And I know now what a moment can hold


And then I hear the water rumbling into the tub. Naked, the baby’s arms and long legs flail against the bare air, and she wails. “Oh you,” I whisper, unable yet to call her by my name, “it’s all right.” I want my joy pure, I want to get rid of the echo in my head. This is my granddaughter, named for me. This beautiful child. I gather her up, nuzzling her soft face, and bring her into the bathroom, and my daughter, her breasts heavy with milk, reaches up her arms for the child. The moment she is lowered into the water the baby stops crying, her body goes limp, her eyelids drop—it all happens at once. Under her half-closed lids her irises are now moving left to right, over and over, rhythmically, as if to a beat. At first I am afraid, and put my hand in the water to make sure it’s not too hot, but it is fine, comfortable. We don’t speak, but my daughter touches my arm as we realize what we are looking at, what the two of us are being shown. This is the face of the unborn child. And I know now what a moment can hold.

~ Abigail Thomas, What the Moment Can Hold. Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life

Photo: With Love and Light


  1. It’s funny how the mind interprets the first sentence or two — and how one must have patience to see the story through. At first I thought this was going to be a horrible story — maybe it’s just too early in the morning — but it turned out to be serene and beautiful. Thanks for jump starting my day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting, I re-read the passage and because I had longer lead-in, I couldn’t see what what saw. Now that I read it, I can see where you went in the opening. Yes, it is a beautiful passage.


  2. Reblogged this on PhylTX.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christie says:

    Beautiful piece and image. Love this powerful sentence “And I know now what a moment can hold.” (that sentence is very similar to something I’ve written) I don’t understand a particular sentence which precedes the one quoted above “This is the face of the ‘unborn’ child”…. I clicked the link you posted about the book and started to read the reviews . I stopped on review # 5 it was written in July 13 2000 by Cheryl Strayed. This was before she was a published, novelist. Her latest, book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail ” was made into a movie. She grew up in the city I did. She may have be a published essayist & memoirist at that time, (2000) I just don’t know. This is what she had to say about Abigail Thomas & her book “Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life. “5 stars -Thomas is a great writer
    By Cheryl Strayed on July 13, 2000
    I first read Abigail Thomas’ work several years ago in the literary journal, “Glimmer Train.” I never forgot those stories: smart, funny, real, brilliant. And her new book held up to that standard. I read it in one day. I just couldn’t put it down. It was like a box of chocolates–I kept thinking, okay just one more…each “chapter” is very short, each packed with intelligence, grace, love. This is a great book.”
    I have a friend who’s daughter is currently hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Arizona, back to her home in Oregon
    I want to read Abigail Thomas book, “Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life”
    Every person has a story and we are richer when we are privileged to be party to the intimacy of their trust through their courageous sharing of their experiences….Thank you, Dave for posting this and for sharing with us, glimpses of you…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christie says:

    correction -opps my friends daughter was hiking in AZ first and then picking up the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mojave Desert – she also has hike a good portion of the Appalachian Trail and many other major trails.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christie says:

    Your welcome. Last night, I read some interviews and articles Cheryl Strayed has written, she is a good writer. An intelligent, strong person who’s journey is varied & vast. She tells it like it was/is for her. I am not sure if i would read “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail ” maybe I should. Some subject matters are uncomfortable for being her use of Heroin – one of my brothers died nine years ago this next February with his arm tied off and with a heroin filled needle in his hard core junkie arm it was also the day I almost lost my Mother to breast cancer complications… I was five years old when he started his journey into drug addiction. His life’s journey became difficult to witness & the threat of his lifestyle brought danger to our childhood home and he left such a Wake of dysfunction, anguish and a life’s potential not realized as a legacy. I was the only sibling that would engage him in normal conversation & show love to him..there where time in my young life where he protected me. His life was a gift to me as to how not to walk through life….I saw him a few months before he passed when I was visiting my Mother in her city, the city was Cheryl Strayed lives..I stood face to face with him, we were each standing in a small doorway, sideways with our backs up against the jam. so close ..I said to him “M” your days are not long in this world, he said I know..I implored him to get right with God He had a courage but didn’t see hope….I miss my older by nine years, intelligent, brother. He was athlete & he looked like Robert Redford…and in my heart he was my brother…

    Liked by 1 person

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