at our house today our hearts are skipping. if you hear a thump in my typing today it’s because my heart it is thumping.
david is coming home. david is coming to our house. david is, pretty much, christmas and new years and birthday and fourth of july, all rolled into one.
david is uncle everything.
he’s the big box under the tree, the confetti, the cake with the candles, the fireworks that light up the night.
he is, to my boys and to me, essential. if oxygen is 02, david is 01. david is the stuff that we breathe. david is life.
and he’s coming home. coming back from his new life in maine, where chairs are the thing that he builds. but a new life is the thing that he’s carving, he and his love, sweet rebecca.
this is the longest he’s been away, and for my boys it’s felt like a lifetime. since he’s been gone, one broke a neck and had a bar mitzvah. the other went off to kindergarten, and learned to pick up a pencil.
we keep in touch, close touch, through the incredible phalanx of options that define ’007.
but still the absence is aching. you can’t feel the rough of his fingers through an email. can’t watch the light dance in his eyes over the phone. can’t inhale how he fills up a room with his remarkable mix of genius and joy. not when you’re 1000-some miles away.
and so, we put out the slippers.
david asked for a day that is given form by the slippers. a day of no strictures, no schedules, no plans, no great expectations.
a day just to be. to be with the boys. to cook. and to eat. to pull up to the table. a day to lie on the floor and stare up at the ceiling. together. a day to tell stories. to laugh. to make silly noises. a day to look for the moon. to marvel at stars. a day to pull out the pillows, make a camp on the floor.
a day for just slippers.
so, of course, we put out our very best slippers. the ones you see up above, waiting just by the door. nothing but the best for our beloved sweet david.
for two weeks now, the little one has been counting as close to backwards as he is able. he asks, fifteen times a day, mama, how long ’til uncle david?
at long last the answer is zero. today is the day that david is coming.
and, boy oh boy, will we ever be ready.
soon as the little one rubs the sleep from his eyes, he’ll be right by the door. waiting. with the slippers.
you see, david was here from the get-go for that little guy. came to the hospital just hours after he was born, and he was born in the middle of night. but david came anyway. david held him. baptized him in a cascade of quiet tears. that little baby was not just a dream come true for me, but testament to many that you can, in the end, cradle your longest-held dream. and my little one came when david needed a dose of that truth. needed to press it close to his heart.
they’ve been joined at the heart ever since.
and my other one, the one i now call the man-child, well, david jumped in six months after delivery day. wasn’t in town ’til the midpoint of year no. 1 for boy no. 1. but when david jumps, stand back for the splashing.
from day numero uno of the days they locked eyes on each other, david gave the now-man-child the absolute whole of his heart.
the litany is long, the litany is rich. here are a few of the highlights: the night he stayed up ’til the dawn, making a life-size aquarium out of a refrigerator box, a work of art, of pastels and passion, if ever there was. the saturn cake he baked for his birthday, the ring of spun sugar, a forest of sparklers scaring the behoozies out of the 5-year-old boy. who loved it, after the sparklers went pfft. the day he showed up at the door with fare for the train, a compass, a map and a grease pencil. the two, uncle david, little man-child (then maybe 6 or 7), spent the day riding the rails, learning the city, but learning forever that you can get wherever you want in this world, and the path uncharted is the one that brings joy you never expected.
the curriculum according to david includes african drumming, purple heart wood, and sushi. victor wooten, the great jazz guitarist. riding a scooter six long blocks to the place that sells extra-choice hot dogs. stopping midway to lie on the grass, and look for shapes in the clouds. a larger-than-life papier-mache elephant head named omar, crafted by david and becca, inspired by a trip to the zoo.
and that’s just the beginning.
the list, i’m sure, will go on as long as there’s air in their lungs. the lessons more lasting the older they grow.
and that’s just the boys.
what he’s taught me is immense.
what he’s taught me the best is that a day rich in slippers is a day to be treasured for life.
may you all have a someone for whom the slippers are waiting. someone you love who fills your heart and your home. we are blessed and we know it. here’s to hearts who come home, and fill every inch of the slippers….