The Love of a Child Is the Greatest Gift
Lately, memories have been popping into my mind seemingly from thin air, as if everything around me is conspiring to send me backwards in time.
Might this be because I am witnessing my parents aging and my children growing into their “personhood” with such grace and enthusiasm? Whatever the reason, I am flowing with it, like a spring stream that is running vivaciously over rocks and winter debris, clearing a path for the winter thaw.
One of my memories today was of my son when he was about three years old. We lived with my parents because I was a single Mom, and it was good for all of us to be connected and supporting each other.
It was really hard for ME because, well, I am a bit headstrong and didn’t want anyone, especially my Mother, telling me how to raise MY CHILD… Like the caps. That’s the energy I wore like a crown when I first began living with my parents. I wanted to prove to them that I was a good Mom. That my having a child so young was not a mistake, and that I didn’t need their advice. In hindsight, I can only imagine how hard it was for them to have me and my son there.
When we moved in with them, my youngest brother was a senior in college and they had only one more year of “kids” in the house. Or so they thought.
We shared a room, my son and I. We had twin beds, lots of my sons stuffed animals, my folks stored books, extra bedding, towels and “things for guests”.
I was working two jobs because “I was not going to take a handout” and I wanted to “pay my own way”. I worked a 10-6 job Monday through Friday, and I bartended Friday and Saturday nights.
Needless to say I was often exhausted… And lonely.
That’s when this memory happened. One night when I got home from bartending, I was feeling particularly exhausted and lonely. It had been a long night, and at 2am, I only had a few hours to sleep before I had to get up and take care of my son. I couldn’t stop with the “woe is me” feelings, and I began to cry.
I wasn’t sobbing or anything, just softly crying into my pillow, trying to make as little noise as possible.
When I was just about all cried out and drifting off to sleep, I felt my son climb into bed with me. He began stroking my forehead.
He kept saying “I love you Mommy,” which made me start to cry again.
And then he said, “It’s okay to cry.” He asked, “Do you want me to stay with you till you feel better?”
After a few minutes, he put his head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I swear our hearts began beating as one.
As I write this, I am crying again. I can almost feel his sweet breath against my cheek and feel his heart beating against my chest. I want to bottle that feeling and put a tight cap on it so that I can drink from it whenever I need to feel better.
As I witness my parents aging, I need a drink from that bottle.
A reminder that sweetness and tears can co-mingle.
That laying down and placing my head upon my Mother’s shoulder and telling her it’s okay to cry, and I will stay with her till she feels better, would fix what ails her, would put meat on her bones and strength in her muscles and clarity in her mind.
And this makes me wonder if my Mother has a bottle of memories that will be uncapped by my being there with her. Just being present…
I can still hear my son’s nighttime whisper: “I love you Mommy.”
And I wonder how the time went by so fast. Just like that, he was a man.
And today, with this memory, I am reminded that there will never again be any sweet words whispered to me in the wee hours by an innocent child when I am feeling exhausted or lonely. There will never be a moment when a child’s sweet breath blows across my cheek while I allow tears to leak into feeling better-ness.
And sooner than I care to imagine, it will be my children who are witnessing me age.
We will grieve the loss of my parents when that time comes.
If we are one of the lucky ones, we will experience that rite of passage, aging and death and new beginning.
I wonder what memories will sustain my children when that time comes for me?
Will they sit with me as I exit my body and return to the Great Mystery?
Will time move backwards and forwards, reminding them of experiences that bring them warmth in their chest and a feeling of deep gratitude in every single cell?
Will their eyes leak, and will they I know how much I love them?
I hope they get the chance to hold me close as I close my eyes and return to the energy of the Whole.
And I hope that they are creating memories with Loves that will be there when it’s their turn to end this adventure and move on to the next one.