We went on a special date, just Louise and me. She crawled through the aisles of the bookstore and I slowly meandered behind her, reading passages from crisp, unspoiled novels I knew I wasn't going to buy. Maybe someday.
She talks a lot, when she's alone with me. She points to things and tells me about them in her funny, amazing language. When something surprises or delights her, her tiny hand flies to her mouth and she chews on her perfect little fingers.
We came home to an empty house and I sat a carton of blueberries on the floor between us. My hands were clumsy and imprecise, picking up toppling handfuls and eating them without discretion. Louise, with her dainty, pointed fingertips, thought carefully about each berry before she chose it with an attitude of satisfaction and ate it, all by itself, like it was the most special and singular blueberry on the planet.
So much thought and care goes into chewing and swallowing a single blueberry when you're one years old.
Some children from my daughter's school, their mother is dying. So, we swoop upon them with love, making lists and baking lasagna, doing things that don't matter, but they mean something. They mean, "We are mothers, too and we couldn't imagine how scared and sad you must feel, to be leaving your children."
Lots of people talk about how a child should never die before a parent. I believe it's true. It would be a grief so complete and unbearable, I have no way to fathom it. And, I also can't imagine what it would be like to wake up tomorrow if I might die before the year was over.
Every movement my daughters make is holy. Little fingernails, they're so small you can barely believe that they're real. Tiny crescents of mud beneath them. What would my life be, if I understood that everybody dies. I pray they will be old and settled when it's my turn, but still. I will never be at peace with knowing they will breathe and eat and think and move around in the world, when I can no longer see them. They need me for everything. Without me, they couldn't survive. And the amount I need them supersedes their neediness by mountains and thunderclouds, by river mouths and inlets. The way I love them is the way rain permeates the earth, filling up everything that was begging, and the earth sighs.
"Everything has a last day." I read this on a blog today. A little boy said this about life. I almost can't take it, he's so smart and right and beautiful.
So, I'll be spending the week at the beach with my family. There will be restaurants and shopping and we'll all be stuffed into a bedroom that was made for a single person. There will be book lights and bubble wands and special, sugar cereal, just this one week per year. But, there will also be salt on the wind and a fat moon dangling above us while we sleep. Our summer congestion will be healed, I hope, and so will my sense of feeling like we're all too big for our lives. The ocean has a way of making me small and unimportant, like death and love are all a part of things, and that I know what I'm doing, just because I'm a person.
I'll bake and cry into the pen's ink when I write, I hope you all are making it, out there... and my children will reach for the glow of our doorbell while I'm rushing them inside and out of the heat. We will all die someday, and it's probably the right thing to do.