not too big
any day now, it’ll evaporate.
i’ll look out the window and not see the little boy bundled in snow suit and puffy snow pants, the one too little to know it’s quite little-boyish to pull up that hood, pull it so tight, so only his little boy cheeks, all rosy and round, poke out from the layers of puff upon puff. i won’t see, anymore, how he kicks that one chunk of snow all the way home, from bus stop to house, a 10-minute meander that has him winding and spinning and kicking and scooping and, yes, ykkh, licking that snow.
any day now, i won’t walk in his room to kiss him awake, only to find at the foot of his bed, an old cardboard box he’s made into a house for his little two rabbits, who he’s tucked into bed, maybe read them by flashlight a story, whispered their prayers, then kissed them goodnight.
any day now, he won’t fit on my hip, that perch of old bone that was built, i’m convinced, to hold up a child in tears, or in heartache, or, every once in a while, in deep cuddling mode.
any day now, his legs will get longer, his words will get less of a little-boy lisp. and the occasional lapse into pure make-believe will go poof, will vanish away, overnight.
there won’t be a bear with a name. we won’t set a place at the table for that wild-haired lion named leo. (a cat who insists, by the way, on rice chex topped with bananas, more milk, please; a diet eerily close to the one thing his trainer could eat–and does–morning, noon and most every night.)
any day now, he’ll be all gone, my sweet little boy.
he’ll be replaced by a model less likely, i’m supposing, to give me a rub on my back for no reason besides that he still loves the feel of my skin. he won’t want to climb in my bed and play 20 questions on saturday mornings. and i doubt he’ll hand me the phone and ask me to dial because all the numbers just mix him all up.
so, right now, and right here, i have every intention of cupping it all in the palm of my hand. like sweet and cool waters, there at the edge of the stream on a day that’s unbearably dry.
i’ll suck it all up, suck every last drop, before it slithers away, slips through my fingers and back to the stream, where it rushes away.
i won’t get it again. this water comes once, comes in a rush that at first feels too much, and too hard to swallow, even in gulps. but then as it goes, as it trickles away, down your wrists, down your arms, back to the stream, you feel, already, the parch in your throat.
of late, the pangs come often, come hard. i miss him already. i long for these days, and they’re not even gone yet.
it’s a trick of the brain, a trick of the heart. and it’s not just a trick for the mamas among us. all of us, each, every one, we know what it is to miss someone we love before they’re not here anymore.
i really don’t think i’ve some special equipment here in my brain, the gymnastic button that lets me leap forward in time, and somersault back. it’s all of us, i’m pretty sure, with that human capacity to long and to miss, before it’s the time.
it’s the thing, is it not, that churns deep in our soul, propels us to love and love deeper. to cherish. to know, in our blood, with the swirls of our fingertips even, that what’s in our midst is sacred, is holy, is never forever.
and so, i go through my day with one extra eye. it’s trained on the child growing before me. i reach out and grab when the moments are sweet, and then all the sweeter.
the boy with the bear. the boy who climbs, still, on my lap. takes my hand in a crowd, squeezes it tight. the boy who calls out my name in the night, and awakes curled in a ball in the morning, all flannel and cowboy pajamas, and rosy and toasty, and playing like a ’possum.
it is a hard thing in this world to know just how to ready a child for all that awaits, a planet of wars and digital overload. a world where too many children are bounding toward grown-up, skipping right over the parts that teach them tender is golden, is good, is–in my book–truly essential.
so i stick with the basics, with what i know best, and what i believe with all of my whole. and i let it all play in the slowest of slo-mo.
i relish the old cardboard box, and the chance to tuck in a bunny to bed. i aim for the winding way home. and a sweet little boy in no hurry to harden.
i’ll savor each drop of each day. and know, soon enough, i’ll be ever so thirsty. and my sweet little boy will be big. too big for my hip. but never, my heart. which grows right along with him.
if this old chair has brought me anything, it’s brought me a place to pour out my love affair with my little one. forgive me the days i get sappy. i can’t really help it. see, if nothing else, some day that child will have all these pages to pore over, to read once again how his mother, she loved him. not a bad thing to bequeath, so i’m penning it now, while it’s bright in my eyes. the other thing is that writing about him has made me savor him in ways that might escape me if i was only tangled up in his moments. to write is to step back, make sense, untangle, see clearly. feel the pang right there in the heart. and so it is, and so i write. and you, if you choose, if you care to, you read along.
do you have that gymnastics button in your brain, the one that makes you leap back and forth in time? the one that propels you to a deeper grasp of the fact that what’s before you really is precious, really does deserve your fullest attention? how does it work for you?
and oh, by the way, that ol’ lazy susan is spinning afresh. not quite spring. but fresh, none the less. give it a click.