That morning the boys asked for mango for breakfast. ‘Cut in squares Mom, you know how you do that, with the peel still on.’ I do. Squares. Orange yellow, a colour so deep that it draws you in. It smelled fresh and it reminded me of summer mornings, of this year, of last year, of so many summers we leave behind never to look at again because life takes us too fast, too far, too rushed.
They ate the mango, square by square. Yellow mustaches, peels left on the side of the plate.
Then it was time for school. We walked to the bus stop, little boy and I, today’s book ready. Peter Pan. A world of boyish everything, following swiftly after Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. ‘Read, Mom, please.’ Yes.
We snuggle, the sun budges in like it should on this mango-bright morning, and we read. I read for both of us.
We get off the bus and the book is not done. We walk and I read… ‘When a baby laughs for the first time, a fairy is born.’
‘You know, I caught your first laugh. Your brother’s too’… Little boy looks at me, smiles. ‘Really, you did? How?’ I knew it will come, so I waited… and they did. Shy and small like a seedling finding its way towards the world. those first laughs make the world I open my eyes to every morning. So much grew out of them since…
Big little boy and I do school later on. We’re outside on the sun-drenched porch, then in the garden, picking things up, measuring, observing, learning. ‘Mom, I love this. How we talk like this.’ I do too. We’re fortunate. Seedlings to grow… We go for a hike, we breathe in sunshine and make it ours. To have and to hold.
That night little boy looked straight into my eyes for a brief few seconds before another hug laced his sweet smelling hair all over my face. ‘I don’t want to grow up Mom, because when I do you will grow old and die one day, and I do not want that. I cannot live without you.’
I smelled his hair. His words, like summer birds touched by a sudden winter chill, sat silent in between us, cradled between two deep breaths. Where to from here?
‘It’s a long way away my love…’
It sounded almost ridiculous. I am never ready for this. Big little boy once said the same, a few years ago and a few times since. It chilled me the same and I mumbled the (now you know) ridiculous ‘oh, i will be so old by then…’
Hugs fix something like this. Soul patches of some sort, pain over joy and joy over pain, like a game where you keep building wondering if the tower will topple soon. But what if you don’t? What if you know that it does topple at some point, but you’ll build another. And then another.
A game is all, children most of all know that. Thoughts come and go, like river waves lapping over shores. But a river is not just the waves. It’s the many shades of blue and green, it’s the murkiness, it’s the breeze and the skies of blue that ask for a bit of peace so that a mirror can be for a bit, it’s the sound of birds that live alongside and keep alive because of it and more.
The game is real.
You can’t complain that time does not deal a fair hand. You take what you get and make the best of it. Now is what we have. Now is ours. Mine, yours. Time is not to worry about, because you should know, time is what we tell it to be.
We deal time our own hand you know, and a measure of worthiness. It’s a game, but it’s real.
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