Much of the time, our family of four functions fairly smoothly. Sometimes, though, we don’t. Some days everybody’s edges feel especially jagged and as we rub up against each other emotions protrude and tempers flare. Yesterday morning was one of those times. All was not well at the homestead. Matt and Grace left to do an errand. Whit busied himself building something with Legos and blocks. I put in a load of laundry, emptied the trash cans, finally sorted through the holiday cards (March 2nd seems like time). I felt a familiar restlessness running under my skin.
Finally I went upstairs to our family room, lay down on the couch, and watched Whit. He was building a luge track using blocks, legos, clipboards, and small rubber tires. It was elaborate, and he kept testing and adjusting, testing and adjusting. I glanced out the window at the tree that has accompanied me through the last 13 years, remembering sitting in this very room nursing a colicky baby Grace and watching dawn spread across the sky through the tree’s familiar branches.
As often happens, I felt the years between then and now collapse in on each other, telescoping into a tunnel of memory and loss. My eyes filled with tears as I watched Whit play, overcome suddenly with emotions more complicated than I can fully parse or name. I felt gratitude for this life, this boy, these bright Legos, this warm room, the years I’ve been able to be Grace and Whit’s mother. I felt guilt for all the hours and days and weeks I have failed to appreciate, all the times I was distracted and short and not present enough. I felt awareness of all that was over so keenly it felt like a physical pain in my chest. I felt the frantic and dizzying sensation of time slipping through my fingers even as I try to grasp on.
What I didn’t feel, though, as I swam in that tearful wave of thankfulness and sorrow, was any of the frustration and aggravation that had marked the first hours of my day. By sinking into the now of my life, by watching Whit carefully, by breathing and just being, I had touched again the hem of heaven, reminded myself of what matters, of all the divinity that glints through our daily lives like mica glittering in the concrete pavement.
My phone, which I’d forgotten was on the table next to the couch, beeped. I glanced over. My best friend from high school, a woman I see not nearly enough but still love fiercely, had texted me this quote.
The tears that had threatened to fall did so now, slipping down my cheeks. Thank you, universe. Thank you friends and children and love and trees and everything about this daily life. Thank you.
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