Lately I’ve been really serious about the word beautiful. What a great word.
When I was 12, 13, 14 years old I thought it had a completely different meaning. Beautiful was the word I’d use to describe all the girls who I thought were prettier than me, all the airbrushed celebrities I could never aspire to look like.
Then I got a little older and beautiful was a word I’d use to describe my friends in their prom dresses, girls in my dance classes all made up for a recital, young women who had spent extra time on their hair and makeup .
Then I got a little older and beautiful was a word I kept in my heart. It was a word that I most quickly associated with Ryan—his green & gold eyes, his love for music, the way he always jumps up to help a person without thinking twice about it, his soul—but I never felt like he or anyone else would understand why I was using the word beautiful to describe a man.
Then I had babies and beautiful quickly began to encompass my children’s physical features, spirits, laughs. It started to cover my family, the way I feel when we’re all together, the hopes and dreams and memories that evolve around them.
It stopped being about looks. I love the way my husband and children look, of course, but I actually have to remind myself now that beautiful refers to physical appearance for most people.
When I think beautiful, I think about my cousin and the journey she’ll take in the next few weeks. I picture her sweaty and pale, with bloodshot eyes and chapped lips. She looks so beautiful I tear up every time. I can’t help but picture her exhausted and drained and crying with her husband as they stare at their brand-new baby girl together, marveling at the tiny little person they made. So, so beautiful.
I think about my brother: in a tux, palms sweating and hands shaking as he says his vows to the girl he loves.
I think about my dad when my brother and I were small: sunburnt and covered in dirt, wearing threadbare blue jeans with dried concrete caked onto the knees and hem, after a day spent working hard to provide for his family.
I think about my mother: wrapped up in my dad’s robe, with limp hair and a red nose, up all night to take care of us even though she was just as sick.
And finally, I see me. I see the beauty in myself, beautifully and fearfully made me. I think about the me I will someday be, with white hair and a face of wrinkles. So beautiful. I will have one wrinkle for every time my husband stole my breath away, for every time I created a memory my children will forever smile at, for every time I made a difference in their lives if even for one day. I will have so much knowledge and so many happy memories that they’ll all get jumbled up together and come out all wrong sometimes. I will have spent the majority of my life married to a good man, as the mother of some of my all-time favorite people.
What about you? Do you see how beautiful you are?