It will come amidst the noise from the ride, our youngest yelling at the top of his lungs, “Stop sign!” (“top tign!” in 2.5 year old articulation). It is not worry that Mommy is missing it, but instead his pure joy over the sight of it. Bright red with its white border and block letters, when was the last time I cried out in joy at the invitation to STOP?
Amidst the Advent activities at home, the youngest could use a personal stop sign. He mourns each day that he cannot consume the Advent season in one fell swoop – opening every door on the calendar, eating every chocolate piece, lighting every candle, coloring in each day.
“Wait,” I tell him. “You must be patient. Advent is the season of waiting for God’s coming into the world. You cannot rush it.”
“Prayers of the people” that I wrote for last Sunday’s service – words I share so that I might remember them for the times I wait for companionship, direction, or no one.
Forever and ever.
The scripture’s haunting words have stuck with me this morning. Like a taunting whisper, they echo throughout my mind.
The house sits empty across the street. The one who loved it most is no more. Mr. John died this past week. A solitary man, he kept to himself. No car. No close family. He was independent, talkative, and kind.
They carried his body out yesterday. The package that sat on the front steps for the whole week should have given it away. The smell of death spilled into the street and I can’t quite shake it. The house his parents called home is all that remains. But the image of mother, father, and son reunited redeems even an empty house and lingering smells.
Forever and ever. Continue reading
The house is quiet now, but once the doors creak open, the rooms will flood with noise. Paws will patter in the path after the youngest’s breakfast remains. The oldest will embrace the beloved, “stay at home day,” with pancake petitions and plans for play. “I’m cold,” on repeat, will lead the youngest to be picked up and enveloped in my arms.
The day will quickly turn into a never-ending line of requests and demands. They will be delightful Saturday ones, but commands nonetheless. I will enter fully into my specific role as “Mommy” within our family system.
First, it is the sound that breaks through the music. A weather alert. A “special weather statement.” The clouds overhead and the gray sky comes into vision. A storm is coming.
I continue on the run but adjust the distance. I veer to the left and then up into the trails. Running around the golf course, I feel akin to the golf player. Before too long, they and I will be engulfed in the reality surrounding us. The clouds will no longer be able to hold it in and down it will come.
First they are droplets. Covered by the trees, it is not my arms that feel it first, rather my ears take in the sounds. Pitter patter along the ivy that surrounds, the wild plants that roam, the leaves overhead.
Rounding the corner, the trail runs parallel to the interstate in the valley cut-out amidst the park. The cars receive the droplets while the drivers drown out nature’s music with their own choices of soundtrack. Over the secret bridge, I arrive back on the other side and I am closer to home.
The rain droplets grow. In size. In weight. In intensity.
Cheek-to-cheek, our faces squeeze together in the dark as I comfort our youngest in the last bedtime ritual of the night. Ever since he was old enough to rough it in his room alone, we have had this moment at day’s end. The room’s darkness only makes all the other senses increase. He relinquishes any control over his body and simply lets me hold him.
At first, as an infant, he could rest solely on my chest, with my arms just as extra support. Now, almost two and a half, his arms wrap around my neck and his legs haphazardly fold around my sides. My arms squeeze him tight as I rub his back in the quiet.
He whispers, “mommy,” softly in my ear.
Hey brother. Hey brother. Hey brother.
Wherever our two brothers roam, these words show up. Spoken from the mouth of the oldest, they are words meant to unite them upon observation of an interesting thing or participation in a daring act. They are the words meant to allow the oldest the joy of inviting another to take part in shared delight. They are the words our youngest have heard from day one as the main words of orientation around this new and foreign world before him.
They usually come in repetitions of five or more because the youngest either hears white noise due to their regularity or simply to attest to the power of the youngest’s focus on what is before him. But eventually they catch his attention (spoken right into his ear with oldest waving arms before his face) and upon registering the invitation, the two brothers become one being. Continue reading