We awoke on Sunday morning to full, glorious spring sunshine. Matt and Grace headed off to an early soccer game, and Whit and I had the morning together. After a slow start to the day (Survivor, his current obsession, and an extended breakfast) we went for a walk. As we strolled towards the library I thought about how many times I’ve walked these streets with Whit. More than I can possibly count. The first paragraph of the introduction to the memoir I decided not to write described walking past the park where I spent so many hours with my children. Whit and I, hand in hand, walked past that same park and the lines rose in my head:
… I felt a pang so acute of all that was gone I had to stop and catch my breath. That time, when empty days unfurled in front of me, seems like another country. While my children still play on playgrounds, I know those days themselves are numbered.
I gripped Whit’s hand harder, wondered to myself when will he stop holding my hand?, shook my head to clear my eyes, and kept walking. We walked past the bush whose sparrow population must number hundreds and stopped in front of it, listening. We have been stopped in our tracks before by the birdsong emanating from this bush.
“This past week, Mummy, one morning, I was on my way to touch typing before school and I had to stop and sit and listen to the birds,” Whit offered.
“Yes. It was just so beautiful. I sat down on one of the stone walls by the building and listened. I looked up at the sky.”
“Wow, Whit. That’s great.”
“I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I just wanted to take it in.”
We kept walking, my heart tumbling around in my chest. Sometimes he dazzles me with his sensitivity and thoughtfulness, Whit does (rest assured he is far from perfect; he also drives me insane with his stubbornness). I am fiercely familiar with the overwhelming need to sit, look, listen, to simply observe and in so doing worship the world.
As we walked Whit gave me a detailed account of the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green (which he saw ages ago; I’m not sure why it was on his mind that day). He described Timothy standing, arms outstretched soaking up the sun, and demonstrated it for me. Then we walked by another bush full of sparrows and Whit’s mind hopscotched to Still, the bird who spent months living under the eaves of our porch.
“It feel like the hours of the day go so slowly but then you look back and it has been two years since Still lived at our house,” Whit observed, walking next to me. I stared at him. Yes, yes, it does, my dear. I swallowed hard so that I didn’t start crying.
We walked on. Whit pointed out a spray of magnolia petals across the sidewalk, the budding green on all the trees, the chirping of birds. I watched him as he noticed the world around him, compelled to simply observe and, in so doing, to worship.
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