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Fog and Forsythia

March 23, 2012

My eyes slowly opened. I rolled over to look out my bedroom window; the early light hung heavy like a damp, gray blanket. I stretched and yawned and so did the morning. I began my usual cadence. Cereal, dishwasher, lunches, news stories half-heard because they were interrupted by pressing questions like: “Mommy, could I run when I was baby?”

The morning ambled on. Socks were adorned, backpacks hoisted and miraculously, everyone got into the car with all their needed stuff with a minute to spare. We dropped Abby off first, as we always do. “I love you, Mom”, she tossed over her shoulder as she exited the minivan. With no cars behind me in the dog-eat-dog drop-off line, I paused. I luxuriated in watching her solid steps carrying her into school. Her hot pink fleece looked electric against the gray flannel morning. I was so content. So….full.

Henry and I continued our journey to his school. The road to his school is one of my favorite roads to travel. It curves. It winds. It suspends Henry and I in our own tight cocoon. We usually exist in silent camaraderie. This morning, however, this question pierced the quiet:

“Mommy?” (He always pauses. And always awaits my response.)

“Yes, Henry?”

“Were you crying in that photo because I was so cute when I was a baby?”

Oh if I could only give him a quick answer.

Henry has fixated on his baby years. He studies his photos and videos with an unwavering eye, paying attention not only to himself but the others in the photos. This morning, he’s referencing a photo series from the day he was born. The photos portray Abby and Henry meeting for the first time. Abby is almost three. She is round, scrumptious and thrilled to meet her baby brother.  Her blond curls form a glowing halo around her fair skin. Henry is a seven-pound, perfect scrawny chicken. The photos capture Abby, Henry and I sitting on my hospital bed. I hand Henry over to Abby. My emotion turns from loving, cautious instruction, to awe, to joy and then to a torrent of tears.

As I drove, my mind swirled with old memories and images. The views on the road to H’s school brought me back to the moment and to trees blushing against the foggy backdrop.

Yellow forsythia blooms punctuated the fog. I thought of Rilke’s words, “Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems”. Overnight, it was Spring. We got to school and I parked the car. I got out and stopped on Henry’s side of the minivan to get my usual pre-school hug.  He nestled in and I felt the heavy weight of his body against mine. That hug turned into me carrying him all the way into school. Henry monkied around me and I wore his orange, monogrammed backpack. My arms and heart were full of him. Good Lord I was happy. The bubbly gratitude filled my belly and soul. We haven’t done this for years. Most days, he wants me to wait at the gate as he walks himself in (and just barely glances over his shoulder to make sure that I haven’t come any closer). I knew, even as this moment unfolded, that I may be experiencing a Last. So poignant and vivid, it was, to live in the moment knowing that it might not ever occur again. Ever.

We got to the door and he placed one, sweet kiss on my cheek.

“I love you”, I whispered.

His whispered-return swiftly crushed my heart, “I love you, too.”

I walked back down the brick path that led to the white picket fence that led to the driveway that would, eventually, lead to my car. I walked down the path that hung thick with three years of nostalgia. The tinkling voices of children danced on the spring air. I drove away, into my day, with my aching, grateful heart.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2012 3:28 pm

    isn’t it amazing what children recall and notice. he is such a tender heart. I wonder where he gets the ability to stop and soak in the moment. Must be from a tender teacher

  2. March 23, 2012 4:59 pm

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. My heart is heavy and grateful just reading your words. xo

  3. March 23, 2012 9:10 pm

    Mental photography is just as important as real photography. We are all just keepers of time and moments. This post was marvelous! It touched my heart. It touched at my need to take all kinds of photographs, not just with light, but with love.

    This post also forced me to not take the full on run/collapse into mama’s arms that Dom does every day after preschool. And you also brought that sting in my nose right before the tears fill up my eyes. That is not easy to do. Thank you for sharing this, Denise!


  4. deb permalink
    March 23, 2012 9:31 pm

    Oh shoot me now!! This was so. f’ing. good. And so heartwrenching in every good way possible. I felt “it” as my heart tightened up at so many places in your story. And not because I am living your exact morning routine, but because you Nailed It brilliantly. And in words I could never express. Loved it. And love you. xoxo

    PS. pass me a damn kleenex, please

  5. March 23, 2012 10:43 pm

    What everyone else said. Thank you for capturing these moments that I often take for granted and for making them sacred. I too am SO grateful to this spring, which I agree, has come overnight. And your beautiful, beautiful imagery – the grey flannel of the day, the yawning of morning – so amazing!!

    Your recollection of Henry’s birth reminded me of Gus’ and of handing him to his older brother and those feelings of awe and joy. Thank you for so skillfully bringing me back to them.


  6. March 26, 2012 12:36 pm

    So beautiful Denise. The poetry of the moment is captured so well with your words.

  7. March 28, 2012 4:26 pm

    This is so beautiful, Denise. Your words – and the way I resonate to your struggle to simultaneously hold and let go – made me think of some of my favorites from Katrina Kenison.

    She writes: “Being alive, it seems, means learning to bear the weight of the passing of all things. It means finding a way to lightly hold all the places we’ve loved and left anyway, all the moments and days and years that have already been lived and lost to memory, even as we live on in the here and now, knowing full well that this moment, too, is already gone. It means, always, allowing for the hard truth of endings. It means, too, keeping faith in beginnings.”

    Thank you for making me know I am not alone in mourning these Lasts. xo

Give me your grit.

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