Parker's best friend from kindergarten was run over by a car on Monday. Monday. The very first day of summer. His tiny head beneath the wheel of a huge SUV. Graham. Graham with his big horn rimmed glasses and even bigger grin. The wiry, feisty little boy everyone (and I mean everyone) knows and loves. Now hooked up to machines in a hospital downtown. Far from the neighborhood pool. No longer a bike ride away.
The last big play date consisted of making a get well banner. A bunch of sweet, clueless kindergarten graduates carefully printing their names and well wishes. "It needs more decoration over here. How about a rainbow?" All smiles and laughs, while I pictured Graham's sweet momma holding her baby boy's hand under harsh lights far away.
Parker attached a favorite Lego man "with tape mom, not glue…so he can take it off and play with it." Didn't have the heart to tell him it will be long time before his buddy will have a chance to play with it. No banners or toys in a sterile environment.
Praise be to God that Graham is a little fighter. He is making progress in his recovery. He will have brain surgery next week.
All this sadness and uncertainty is juxtaposed with utter joy.
Joy at the simplicity of summer. The hose, a trampoline, some good books. The pool, a new park, bike rides and s'mores. Free programs at malls and museums. You name it, we've done it this week, our very first week of summer. I am having the absolute best time with my brood.
Tonight was another joyful night. Ordinary but special. We went on a family walk and took along one of our best little buddies in the neighborhood. Aaron pushed the double stroller, knowing full well that while Jack began the journey on his scooter, he would lose his momentum along the way. Caleb sat, fat and happy, sucking his thumb and kicking his legs. Parker and Kane raced along on their scooters while Maddie's shoulders hunched in determination as she pedaled after them on her princess bike.
As we walked, round cheeks turned pink with exertion. Helmets were adjusted and readjusted. Something precious about sweaty hair sticking out at crazy angles. We explored a small park near the entrance of our neighborhood for a bit then continued on our way. While Parker and Kane waited patiently at the corner for Jack and me to join them, Aaron, Maddie and Caleb headed home early. It's challenging to make good time with almost three year old Jack setting the pace. One must stop at every interesting ant hill and rock. And apparently they are all interesting.
When the exhaustion finally set in, Jack's eyes searched the street. "Where's da stroller, mommy?" his voice quavered. He had given up on the scooter and was dragging his feet.
"Daddy had to take Caleb home to feed him. Want me to carry your scooter and you can hold my hand?"
Jack, who is typically fiercely independent, held out a chubby hand to me. Ah, the sweetness of holding that little hand as we ambled down the sidewalk!
I willed myself to pause and commit the moment to memory. Standing beneath a big tree, the sun's bright white light slanting through curly puffy clouds, skinny tanned legs racing scooters down the street, the softness of Jack's hand in mine. Looking down on his round head, I saw his other fingers curled round and his thumb tucked snugly in his mouth.
We turned on to our street at last. I saw the gleam return to Jack's eye when he spotted a neighbor's slanted rock retaining wall.
"Momma, peas climb dis and den your [you] can get me down?"
Summoning his last bit of energy, he climbed the wall, walked across the top and held out his arms. Much to his surprise, I didn't set him down. "I will carry you home." Not an offer I typically make, given how heavy he has grown. But tonight, as I balanced the scooter in one arm and my big baby boy in the other, it was worth every aching muscle.
Perhaps it is because of Graham's accident that I am so keenly aware of the blessings of my children and their health. Life is fragile. It is ever-changing. It is sweet.
And I aim to enjoy my darling children and their wonderful dad and give thanks to God every single day.