Tongues at work. Talk Today
She could did for an hour or more.
My first her, who gave me words.
Then at the end, before, merely Oh!
A moment of ... of more, perhaps.
Oh sweet and blessed could be.
Oh my soul
Soul slept, called in sick.
Late sun clouds
the lake with clouds.
to -did -did.
Nothing to be done.
Little sun, quarter moon.
--Martha Collins, 3 & 4 from Over Time
I was off. Something between my center and heart and throat felt disconnected. The clock said 11:07 a.m and I counted out loud, 12,1,2,3..., and then I thought about tomorrow and next week and all the weeks.
The stillness. The way the sunlight pushes through the sheer white curtains as the wind pushes them out and pulls them back against the wall, suspended. For a few seconds the cricket's ticking, and then silence. Car sounds and tines clinking on porcelain.
I take a walk around the house, pausing in front of quirky curated scenes like two Power Rangers facing each other circled by mini plastic fish and crabs. A big jet, half built, Lego manual open wide. One sock. Three books on the stairs. Two unmade beds.
I sit down and feel the disconnect again. They are not here.
But they are there, happy. Oh, they are full of joy this week. Back with old friends and familiar faces, learning new teachers and friends. They seem relieved and excited. And it is impossible, yet possible in just four days Sully - my baby child - seems way older.
One minute is surreal. Another minute is real.
I rolled my bike out of the garage, hopped on and peddled hard. I pushed until I felt the knot release from my insides, until I could feel my breath again. I rode to the library and back, looking behind me twice out of habit - no kids in the bike lane.
I know what this is. It is grief. Allowing myself to process the end of another phase that has defined and grounded my life. But it is gratitude, too. It is stuck in my throat and on my heart. It is still wet on the washcloth they used this morning. It's on our kissing hands.
I am here - fully accepting all of it. Slowly and surely, I am learning what to do with this divine light.
The sunlight was spilling into the room sideways. Theo and Sully were draped over my body. One was tucked in next to me with an arm resting over my chest. The other was horizontal, over my legs with his arms stretched out long. We are a pile of bleached bones, salt and seaweed bits still in our hair from the morning swim. We did this on this day and that day. We did this for two weeks straight, fell into this pleasantly exhausted heap together. I managed to fill every space inside of me with the memorization of ocean blues and greens: pale, indigo, pinkish, and until I felt utterly whole and brine-filled on this trip. Blissfully saturated with ocean, pools, outdoor showers, tropical vegetation, shell collecting, family. As our plane ascended and I watched Tampa Bay fade away from the airplane window, I didn't feel as sad as I usually do when I leave the ocean, especially here where I am from. I felt an odd calm, a see you next time, love.
And here we are eight days later, still a heap of sun-kissed limbs tangled together on a weekday afternoon after we've been to the pool for hours. Blessed coolness and shade and a soft bed. We read and tell stories. I comb my fingers through their hair, which is no longer salty but still thick with sunscreen build up and strands highlighted from the summer sun.
Sully is anxiously waiting for the UPS truck, for they will deliver his first school backpack and lunchbox. He turned five last week. Five! I did a little photo shoot to document this milestone. If you want to take a peek, the photos are here. Theo is mildly enthused about school starting back up due to the time it will take away from lego building and bike riding, but that will change as fast as the sparrow flies once he's back with friends and his favorites like art class and learning about the world.
Both of my boys will be in school together starting in less than two weeks. This will be the first time that they will both be away from me for a full school day, five days a week. I'm constantly asked what I'm going to do with all of my time; aren't you just so happy? Yes and no. I'm thrilled for Sully to begin this new chapter, but the chapter is so big that my heart clenches when I think about it too much. The very real truth is this: I am heartbroken. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has made me happier than having the opportunity to spend the last seven years with these two. Do not be mislead, I've thrown my body on my bed and screamed into my pillow. I've punched air. There's more than one secret chocolate stash in my house, and I heard Sully say "fuck" the other day when he couldn't get one of his Pokemon figures to stay upright. That is my word, my fault. Some days they drive me absolutely mad - little terrorists plotting against my sanity. But most days they stretch my love in ways I never dreamed possible. They've cracked me up and rattled me into the most beautiful version of myself I've ever known. Now here they are, about to run off to recess and Spanish class, making friends I won't know and getting library cards in their own names. And me - oh, I expect some days and some moments to be downright unbearable. Their absence will surely ache. But like our recent trip to the ocean, the filling up of salty air and washing and wringing out from the waves, I am full. Full of their beautiful selves and impossibly grateful that I had this chance to free up our time and life over these last seven years to go slow and simply, together. I trust this will be enough to carry me into our next chapter.
I sit and turn the words over and over in my mind. The early years: we've lived them and loved them. Wow, I can say that now.
They paced the house in circles, here and there a moan escaping pouting lips. The weight of their "we are so bored" words started pulling at me in all the wrong places. It was later in the afternoon, after a day already spent mostly outside at the pool, in the garden-yard. I was tired and out of sorts. Like a smoke break, I wanted a mama break - just ten minutes or so of nothingness, deep inhaling and exhaling solitude without the smoke.
I handed each of them a perfectly ripe nectarine and sent them outside. I, too, took a nectarine from the bowl and perched on the porch in the shade, watching them a bit further away in the grass under the tree. They were giggling. Sweet juice ran down my arm. They took slow bites and swooshed mosquitoes away, blades of green grass stuck to their summer-tan limbs. They were in their own world, oblivious that I had ever even followed them outside to eat up my own suggestion.
We need this time together to strip our lives down bare, where quiet and bored mingle in their very own reverie, always there and ready for us to arrive. I watch as Sully hands Theo his nectarine pit. Theo beams and heads off searching for a pocket of dirt to dig with his bare hands which he will slip the pits in and cover back up. He'll continue to check his little mound of earth each day, hopeful that a baby tree will appear. Sully falls back into the grass and spends a good deal of time staring at the sky. I watch them. I always watch them and in return little shoots of pure love shoot up and out of the mound that is my heart. In this boredom we are quiet enough. We are enough.
If you popped in and read my last post, I owe you an apology. After trying to edit my words three times, I just could not find the right language to match what I was feeling. Finally I deleted it with a silent I am sorry.
What I can say is that sometimes we have to clean out and reorganize the heart to make space for now and ahead. And sometimes it is only in silence and boredom where we can hear the changing of the heart, to pay attention there and invite the quietude in.
There in the porch shade and the tree shade, the pacing stops and the decluttering begins.