***In the interest of complete truthfulness and because my children will likely read this post and wonder at my ability to understand the passage of time, this “night” actually occurred 5 nights ago, which is when I began writing the post.***
Sometimes we are just living our ordinary moments when suddenly, I am struck by the UN-ordinariness of our lives — the preciousness of “here and now,” this exact moment, those exact words, the shape of Prairie’s eyes when she scrunches up her face, the curve of Lincoln’s smile. It is that brief moment when I am wise, and my heart clings to every sight and sound, savoring it, wrapping it in memory, protecting it from loss.
This happened to me tonight, and these are the memories I captured . . . . . . . . . .
“What’s for supper Mama?” Rachel asks.
“Roast, sprout salad and buttered noodles.”
A very brief moment of silence as her mind shifts through her distaste for roast and ambivalence toward sprouts. In the next instant, she throws her arms around my thighs and hugs me. “Oh THANK YOU for making noodles Mama!” Suddenly, I want to make this girl cookies.
Cleaning up after supper, Sidney wiping counters, Lincoln sweeping the mudroom, I load the dishwasher and Sid clears the table.
“I took some of your Lentil Soup for lunch today. It was most excellent,” Sid complimented me.
“Oh, did you remember to douse your lunch portion with oil and balsalmic vinegar before you took it with you?” In my book, these last minute additions to the individual serving MADE the soup.
“No,” he said. “But you added it to the big pot of soup last night.”
“No, I didn’t,” I said, half-frowning and searching my memory, feeling certain that I had followed the new recipe to the letter.
“I watched you pour it in.” Sid insisted.
I bit my bottom lip and kept loading the dishwasher. Sid stepped toward me in a mock-threatening way, pretending to stare me down if I dared to look at him.
I peeked up at him, smiled and said, “I am soooo defying you in my head.”
In his best John Wayne voice, he drawls, “As long as that is where is stays, Little Lady.”
Our way of recognizing that we were on the verge of foolishly arguing over oil and balsamic vinegar and poking fun at ourselves.
After-supper-chores done, we piled on jackets and tied on shoes. Stepping into the January night, I was thankful for these warmer days after the previous weeks of freezing temperatures. It felt chilly, but not freezing tonight. The three eldest children ran down the driveway, yelling, laughing, blending into the darkness except for the crazy dance of their flashlights. They are brave in their togetherness.
The stars clear and bright, a sliver of moon with a haze over it. Prairie’s hand grasped tightly in mine to keep her from slipping on the gravel driveway. Sid grabs my other hand. “Just wait until this spring . . . . . . after the kids are in bed, we’ll take walks down the driveway, holding hands, in the moonlight.”
I hear the warm anticipation in his voice and feel mildly surprised. We had begun those nightly walks 2 years ago when I was nearly bedridden sick. I had needed the exercise, though it felt physically impossible to move. Sid pushed himself to do 4 times more work in a day, pushed himself to get home at a decent hour, then pushed his exhausted body further still, while pulling his diseased wife around our trailer at night.
What had begun as desperation turned into a beautiful hope. He would talk to me during our walk, taking my mind from the dwelling place of exhaustion, health research and debate over my next treatment option. The anticipation of those nightly walks with him kept me tethered to the hope and beauty before me.
One night, we laid on a blanket in the yard and looked at the stars. I remember how time seemed suspended and if I just looked hard enough, I could look right past those stars, beyond the universe and see God. I remember thinking that I might not live long, but that moment with Sid under the stars was bigger than life and death, and I was peaceful.
But tonight . . . . . . . . .tonight, we are not trudging along in exhaustion and three of our children are wisps in the night, while the littlest fearfully clings to my hand. We are on a mission, a mission to see Daddy’s new “baby” trackhoe. We finally make it to the old trailer, where Sid parks his trucks and equipment. I hear lots of giggling, shushing and finally, a howl. The boys must remember their “camping trip.”
Gathering around the truck and trailer, we watch Sid unload his “baby,” which unleashed a flurry of excitment in the children.
“Daddy, may I ride with you?” asks Rachel.
“Can I drive it?” Sidney test-drives the machine, already looking like a young man on that thing, even at the tender age of 10. Both my boys filled to the brim with brashness and foolhardy confidence.
Sid lifts the extra bucket, “Look at the bucket. Isn’t it cute?” Though I wonder at his definition of “cute,” I am certain of the man’s brilliant business sense. No doubt that trading in one of his bobcats for the “baby” will prove to be a wise business move.
The night’s chill worked its way through our jackets, and we were ready for the long trek back to the house. Prairie and I nearly run into Lincoln, standing still as a statue in the dark. My Mama Sense knew something was wrong and I was fairly sure I knew what it was. But I wanted my reticent boy to verbalize his thoughts, so I waited. Haltingly, he finally shares his disappointment that he did not get a turn on the baby trackhoe. The desire to turn back and give my son his turn is great, but greater still is the desire to raise a strong man, a man who won’t turn away in frustration with the people he loves because his voice is too soft, because he has not spoken clearly and made his thoughts and desires known.
One hand still clasping Prairie, my other hand on Lincoln’s shoulder, I pull him close, hoping he can feel my love for him if he doesn’t hear it in my counsel. After a few moments, he takes off, once again running in the night with his siblings, and all appears well again.
My littlest tightens her grip on my hand. “Mama, I’m afraid of dinosaurs.” Relieved, I am more confident in my ability to handle this concern.