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Category: uncles

slippers for david

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….

breakfast for michael

i wish you could hear the sounds here. yes, yes, the bacon is sizzling, and so’s the french toast. but the sound that truly makes my heart sing is the sound of sweet tedd in rapturous love with his uncle.

uncle michael.

reason for joy.

michael, you see, is one of the four. four uncles, each so beloved. there’s uncle airplane, uncle piano, uncle computer and uncle everything. and now all four are spread all over the country; maine, california, the mountains of north arizona, and, soon, toledo.

when an uncle comes home, there is reason for joy.

michael happens to be emphatically so.

michael is the brother just younger than me; we came every odd year, the first four of our brood. then, years later, an even one, mind you, came the caboose, came the sweet angel bri.

ever since we were little, michael and i have been particularly close. we used to lay on the extra twin bed in each other’s room, and talk the bedtime away. in the way back of the wood-paneled ford station wagon, we swapped stories and secrets, looked out the window, spun tales of all that we saw.

two christmases ago, michael was nursing his wife through her final excruciating days. she died before january ended, leaving my kid brother, at 45, broken-hearted and widowed.

last christmas, to change things, he came to see us the day after christmas, once his church job was finished, the songs put away.

after spending hours of each day on the phone all that long year, nursing him through his unbearable grief, finally having him here in the kitchen was the embrace i’d been waiting for, aching for, each time we hung up.

you see, michael is brilliantly funny, brilliantly quick. and brilliantly shining with love. to know him is, i’m not kidding, to utterly love him, and love him we do. he has been sunshine as long as i’ve known him, and i’ve known him as long as he’s been. one minute he’s playing the charlie brown theme song, the next he’s juggling oranges. he makes a game of dunking chips into salsa. and tedd, at his side, laughs and laughs ’til it hurts.

so this morning, once again, beats christmas in my book. it’s breakfast for michael, and michael for breakfast. if cooking for someone you love is a giant embrace, then the feast i just made was a boa constrictor.

it’s one thing to love someone on a long-distance phone call. it’s a whole other thing to fry up the bacon, slice the cranberry-studded, almond-paste-swirled holiday bread. heck, we poured cream in the mix of the eggs and the milk, the dunking sweet soup that turns bread to french toast.

the coffee was spiked with dashes of cinnamon. the pomegranate seeded and sprinkled on clementines.

and then we all sat, we held hands and we prayed.

it gets no more delicious than michael for breakfast.