I’ve been reading books about death and dying recently in quick succession (Me Before You, The Book Thief, The Fault In Our Stars, One Last Thing Before I Go, The Woman Who Could Not Forget) – not that I was in a dark mood, they just happened to be books I’d planned to read. All were beautifully written, I loved them, they made me feel all the feelings, brought me to the depths of despair (yes, I know, 4 out of 5 of these are fiction, and real people did not die in them, but real people die every day, don’t they?), and made me gasp for breath.
And I run back to the land of living. The land of my husband, my children, my friends. I feel the warm sun coming through our windows, its glare blinding. I look at my toddler, ‘driving’ his Hot Wheels across the floor, the clattering sound and his voice singing out the colours of all his cars, welcome sounds to my ears. I watch my oldest son quietly drawing in his sketch book, face intent, profile looking just like mine. I think about my husband, out working on a Saturday, grateful for his dedication and commitment to our family.
I look at my little one’s mass of unruly curls at the back of his head, so unlike his brother’s thick head of straight hair. I run my fingers through them, untangling hair and feelings, thinking, child, when did you get so big?
I thread fingers with my oldest, remembering how tiny they were when my little finger was larger than his entire hand. And I hoped that in the fours years of being his mother, I’d thought to live a little, soaked in the moments, celebrated the small things. I swallow a lump of regret for the times I’ve not always been kind to him, where my voice raised unnecessarily, and my tone harsh, my mothering not a soft landing place for him as it should ALWAYS be.
Which then got me to thinking about the two hours I just spent in their room, while they fall asleep (and stay asleep). So many things I could be doing instead (like read another book) – but there I was, lying in the dark, dozing off here and there, watching my boys and their even breathing, their chests rising and falling, the particular way my oldest likes to swing his leg over the side of the bed while he sleeps, quietly treasuring the arm my youngest has casually thrown over my own. Yes, I could be doing all those other things outside of spending two hours getting them to sleep, then staying there long enough that neither sees me walk out and wakes up crying. But it was a moment of living, one that feels like many nights these days, but will soon fade to nothing as they grow up.
And so I treasure all the noises of little boys, and the quiet of night time sleep, because they draw me back to the warmth of the living.
Also, I probably need to read a different kind of book.