Always and Forever

Isaac was always our snuggler. Then toddler-hood descended and he became a beam of light in a room full of mirrors; a bowling ball shot out of a cannon.  This didn’t mean we could no longer hug or hold him — but that it was often like catching the wind in a fishing net.

Bedtime. That’s when our child, this barely contained assemblage of chaotic energy, sat on our laps quietly while we read.   It was my time to hold him close.  Several months ago, he climbed into bed for the evening — but chose to sit beside me for his bedtime story.  I wonder if he heard my voice crack as I read to him?

You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” (Dr. Seuss)

Sometimes what we’re certain will last always and forever — happens for the last time. Parenting is a series of those transitions:  The adorable mispronunciation that fades into maturity.  The assistance they no longer need.  Some tiny loss of an innocent perspective. Yesterday’s memories slowly dissolving into the mist.   

The lesson however isn’t to grasp too tightly — or to live in fear of what we’ll lose. Today’s changes lead to tomorrow’s discoveries — and an endless array of new horizons. I often want to freeze some moment with my children — but if that were possible, I still may be crawling around my childhood home, my parents themselves willing time to stop.

Sometimes always and forever does happens for the last time — and I’m learning to be at peace with that.  To cherish each moment — but to hold on loosely.  To enjoy the metamorphosis — and even their faltering, uncertain steps toward autonomy that serve as stark reminders that we can’t hold on to them forever.  

Isaac -- Timothy


Old Blue

The once bright blue mattress is in the waning years of life, far removed from his factory birth and proud display in a furniture showroom.  A couple arthritic springs are beginning to groan, while the adhesive brand label — mostly missing, the letters smudged and illegible — rests just above his sagging midsection.

The mattress was given to us by a family member for Noah’s first bed, like an aging race horse being given one last reprieve on a family farm — one last season of life before venturing into the Great Beyond.

Old Blue has proudly watched Noah grow, embracing his sleep and the dreams that danced through his resting head — dragons and knights and fantastical adventures.  He’s supported me and Sarah as we told Noah bedtime stories, stories exposing my laughable inability to create believable villain names:  Vigoramell, Gigantora, Skullbonehead.  It hasn’t always been carefree; there have been the unfortunate nights where a younger Noah dreamed of a waterfall and the sheets weren’t sufficiently water proof. Then there was the Night of Endless Sickness just this past week.

With our upcoming move out west, Old Blue will be unceremoniously tossed away on community dumpster day, joining other aging relics from our neighbors — relics imbued with fading memories.  The creaking rocking chair that someone’s recently deceased grandma owned — a chair she was herself rocked in as a baby.  A broken doll house that was a child’s respite from the shouting and discord — a safe haven where dreams of stability were acted out.

After the move, Noah will likely get a mattress featuring a steel coil support system or a Smart Bed featuring temperature controls and touch screens. (Or was that the one on my wish list?)  This mattress will undoubtedly witness his rush toward youth and embrace the shifting dreams of a boy whose eyes are opening to the world.  She may overhear my faltering attempts to tell a cryptic story about how Mrs. Bird and Mr. Bee loved each other very much — then my nervous interjection that Mom will be home soon and can finish the story.   She will likely feel the tears of his first breakup.

For now though Old Blue lies there, covered in a Superman blanket, unaware of his impending demise.  He’ll undoubtedly be wrestled off the box springs a couple more times as Noah builds a fort — perhaps seeking shelter from my tired stories about Xanadorthu and Pelgwandor and Lightningbone.  He’ll hear us read the last several chapters of the Chronicles of Narnia series while an entranced Noah excitedly fidgets on the bed — occasionally interrupting with a question.  A few more good night hugs and kisses. A few more good night prayers. Then the Great Beyond.