What is it about driving that starts those meaningful, thought provoking, and sometimes painful conversations? Is it the lack of eye contact, as the driver focuses on the road, only to glance sideways or in the rear view mirror for brief seconds? Or could it be the hypnotising vibration of the vehicle as it cruises over the outstretched road, lulling the anxious mind, making room for the wayward thoughts?
What ever the cause, I was caught unaware by just that type of roadside tête-à-tête last Friday as I drove our youngest to camp. It was a rare occasion where it was just him and I; no brothers, no dad. He had me all to himself. For the majority of the ride he sang to the songs on the radio. I am sure it was a pitchy rendition of the latest pop song and I was already at work in my mind, laying out what needed to be done to get through my day. The song must of ended because my trance was interrupted by his little voice from the back seat, "Flynn is dead, right momma?"
My only response, "yes he is honey."
"He was my brother while I was still in your tummy, right?" Oh I felt so torn. It wasn't that we kept Flynn from him, I had every intention of talking to him when the time felt right. Here was my baby wandering into the ugly truth and away from the nativity of innocence.
I inhaled and replied, "yes, he was your older brother and born many years before you."
A pause. Maybe that was all, possibly I had curbed his curiousity, could I be that lucky?
"How did he die?" asked the little voice.
How to answer, I had said it wrong with his older brother, or he had gotten confused - prematurity is such an abstract concept when you are five.
"He was born before his body was ready and he was too small to survive." It was all I could come up with, not having had to explain this to a little person in such a long time.
"Ok." I look in the rear view mirror and he grins back at me.
"I love you baby," is all I could get out through the lump in my throat.
"I love you too momma."
And my heart swells to twice its size once more.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Blue skies overhead with sun that warms my hair while the wind tosses it wildly about my face. All I can smell is the fresh pungent fragrance of newly mowed grass mixed with baking green leaves from the maples that straddle the path I am walking. To the left of me a swelling stream rushes over rocks where it used to only babble, creating tiny rapids that churn the river bed turning the water a murky brown-red. As I lose myself to the rhythm of the crunching from my feet snapping the twigs, gravel and sand on the path, I can hear the cicada singing for a mate as the temperature continues to climb.
Now I slip down the clay, crumbling bank toward the edge of the stream so that I can dip my feet in and cool my skin in the tepid water. The sun splits into a million tiny replicas that bounce and reflect off the waves of the stream, so bright I shield my eyes. I look up just in time to see two dragonflies weave in and around one another, each out pacing the other, dipping and diving until they zip from my sight. As I peer through the water, down at my toes, I see that a dozen minnows have surrounded my feet, possibly to inspect this foreign intrusion. I wiggle my toes to see them scatter in every direction as the mossy stream bottom whirls and circles in particles that cloud my feet from view.
I experience such clarity of mind as I stride deeper into the forest and further from the drone of the city. It is in these moments, with nature, when I feel closest to life and what alive means. Moments when I am also the most in tune with my heart and it's grief. Perhaps it should not even be called grief. It is in these quiet minutes, that I feel the swell of my heart as I fill with such tremendous love for Flynn; for his tiny moment that weighed on our lives forevermore. It seems natural to drift to thoughts of him. A burdened sense of peace, not freedom, but free of torment. This is the place that wishes intertwine with daydreams. Where I see his feet moving through the grass and his wavy head of hair curling in rebellion with the breeze. I picture him laughing and running and I long to imagine him with his brothers, filling in the whole that aches on harder days. Lost in this daydream I can hear him call after me, "Momma" in the singsong voice of a child pleading for me to witness his latest feat of speed or strength or courage. I feel the muscles in my chest begin to engage with a dull, deep thumping and I know that it is time to rouse myself to the present so that I may stay with the lightheartedness of my dream. I hear the crunching of the path beneath my feet and I continue on.