It’s Aviva’s seventh birthday and our tenth anniversary. Seven. That’s a third of the way to twenty-one! Ten years! A drop in the bucket. Eternity. Neither and both of these.
The day ran a predictable gamut of fun and tears. Aviva had a huge fall-apart first thing in the morning and almost didn’t go to soccer (an 8:00am game). I rallied knowing that this would help her rally, despite my body’s messages that I should stay home. So at the last minute, all four of us piled in the car, dropped Pearl off at her early-morning playdate, and went to the park.
After giving Aviva carte blanche to sit in the car for an hour, I hobbled across the field in the spitting rain. She surprised us by choosing to play, shinguards pulled up right over her penguin feet pajamas. Greg co-coached and I watched from under the canopy, where I sat shivering, bundled up under about five first-grader-sized coats, an unlikely soccer mom but glad to be there cheering our sweet, scrappy little team.
After, we picked Pearl up, who was now wearing her friend’s dinosaur pj’s, and went to Handy’s Diner for breakfast. Back at home, I gave Greg his drum, which began to sing its place into the family, and then we all napped under the electric blanket Greg’s mom recently gifted us.
Upstairs, Aviva and her two friends are wide awake, “not even a little bit tired!” They are giggling and chit-chattering, eating tortillas and dressing up their dolls. They’ve come down about six times for this and that, obviously so pleased to have permission, for this one night, to stay up so late.
I don’t have many specific memories of being seven, but the sounds and energy wafting down from their sleeping bag heaven up there fill my body with familiarity and comfort. Such contentment, such connection, such innocence despite all of their lunging at growing up. What I wouldn’t do for that kid.
This past year, these past months, weeks, days, hours haven’t been all sunshiny joy. Sometimes it feels like we are losing ourselves to email and money stress and drop-offs and pick-ups and the very run-around I myself could scarcely imagine inhabiting not so many years ago. Marriage is not a static business, nor, as it turns out, is trying to earn a living or raising creative, compassionate, self-reliant kids in a world of high-speed, one-dimensional lies. It’s meaty. It takes muscle and guts and heart and soul and acquiescence and equanimity and vast stores of patience and faith.
But today, as we all got to know our new drum, and tonight, as I watched Aviva revel in her happy, small, low-key party, and later, when I snuggled up with Pearl, who holds her own so well with her big sister and all of the ups and downs of the day, I could see that we are not lost, not ever. I saw that I could just be in it, experience the being that in fact is the only consistent thing about any of the doing.
Please, whoever it is who hears such pleas: May we look up at each other every day with recognition, remembrance, deep in the valley of bones and tears. You who recognized me before I even recognized myself. You who called me from the sky, the light on the lake, the fire road up into to mountains. You who took my hand when it was cold, who rocked me to sleep as I cried, who knew every one of my names and still hungered for more. I see you. I hear you. Help me remember.