I wish I could remember forever the sight of my kids running into school this morning (and so many other mornings) — of Bella in front, her hair tied back with a scrunchy with tiny bells that ring in the night every time she rolls over, making me think there’s an elf in our bed, and Tobey bounding behind her in the that run-skip-hop he does now — he does it in soccer games and on the playground; it’s the sweetest movement , filled with joy and uncomplicated verve. The sight of the two of them going into the old brick building with utter faith in an education that I know to be imperfect, complicated by too-large classes and standardized testing and the like, swells me with love and breaks my heart a little.
I wish I could always remember them sitting at the table this morning, Bella working on her “Geographical Terms” booklet that she is making. She has “ocean” up on Wikipedia and is copying the definition down on the blank paper in front of her: “An ocean is a large body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere.” She’s upset because her drawing of an ocean looks a lot like her drawing of a rapids. Her pencil grows heavier and faster on the paper, and I can feel her frustration from where I stand in the kitchen. Then Tobey, who is perched on the edge of his chair, eating a bagel, says, “Bella, I think it’s a really good drawing,” and I can feel her calm down a little. A few minutes later, still watching her draw, he says, “Did you like my book?” – referring to the story he wrote and illustrated and read to us last night, “The Birthday Party.” “Yes,” she says, earnestly. “Did you think it was good?” he asks meekly. “Yeah, it’s really good Tobey! Definitely.” I stand at the counter, knife poised in the peanutbutter jar, two blank slices of bread in front of me, and am filled with thankfulness.
I don’t want to forget the sweet eyes of Hannah, my 13 1/2 year old lab, who stumbles now daily, sometimes unable to get up for a few minutes, and who is losing her bladder and her memory. She’s been with me since I turned 30, a constant and patience presence who radiates unconditional love, even when I’m too impatient or crabby to reciprocate as I wish I could.
I don’t want to forget the sight of my kitchen this morning, cleaned and scrubbed by my friend C. last night and so many other nights. He does this for me because he doesn’t know what else to do and yet is filled with love and patience and a desire to be of use. There is something artful in the dishrags that I find in the morning, which he neatly folded and left on my sink’s rim . Knowing that he’s been down here, scrubbing my sink of its stains, wetting and drying the counters, stacking the dishes, while I snuggle in bed with the kids and read stories is a reminder of grace. And that love appears even when we’re convinced it won’t.
In the face of all that we cannot know — where a paycheck will come from next, how to get by as a creative soul in an ever efficient world, who we are becoming — these snapshots fill me with grace. They are providers of faith.