I hope that when you ask me about your childhood, I have a ready story or a moment you’ve never heard before described in a way in which you can see yourself from my perspective, a child who loves her sister fiercely, who will wrap her arms and legs around my arm in a gigantic hug if a scary scene plays on a show. What I don’t wish for is to be a parent and perhaps a grandparent who says, “I don’t know; it all blurs together.” But, it does.
There are so many days in which I laugh, feel joy, am sleep deprived to the point where my brain feels buried beneath layered waves of tiredness. I’ll tell you a story about the two mice, Hearty Finn and Hearty Tiny, who have become central characters to our nightly bedtime story, and you will reply, “That was the best story ever and you are the best daddy ever.” You’ll hug me then and your hair, so much like your mother’s, will catch in my beard and a fierce love fills me with a feeling to not let go.
Yesterday, you accidentally spun your sister too fast in a chair. She fell and bit her lip or knocked her teeth, amidst the blood and the tears it was hard to tell. You looked at me holding her and ran to your room, hid under your blankets. Later, I told you, no one is angry at you. You’re not in trouble. It’s scary to hurt someone you love, isn’t it?
Yes, you replied, now sitting on my bed with me.
I want to write more of these moments to give you the gift of insight. I want you to have my voice after I’m gone, a point with which to connect as I so desperately miss that experience now that my parents are gone and there is no one to tell me stories from my childhood.
One of your gifts to me is the ability to see your delight in the world. This Christmas, we gave you and your sister a large, circular, webbed swing that hangs down from a tree in our backyard. You ask me to swing you as high as the moon. I pull the swing back over my head and push. Your laughter calls out among the bare trees. Your laughter is pure; it is of you at this moment, hanging on as the wind whips your hair and you sail through the air, away from me and then back over my head on a Saturday afternoon that could be any Saturday afternoon as the moments softly build up.