Monday, September 01, 2008

Endless Summer

You only have your 4-Year-Old-Summer once. It seems to me like it is the perfect age for summertime. This has been an imperfect -- but somehow therefore perfect -- summer for Kyle and Owen. They have run barefoot for the past three months. Their feet show it. Every one of their twenty little brown toes are stubbed. There are scabs, blisters, callouses, scrapes, and bruises all over their feet. At least half of their toenails are broken. The bottoms of their feet are permanently stained with grime. It is quite a contrast to their baby sister's pale soft little feetsies and tiny tiny toesies. What a difference four years make. And yet, what little difference. In so many ways K & O are not much different than Meera. They are, like her, in so many ways, still so wonderfully beautifully innocently unaware. For the past three months K & O have been immersed in days without much care in the world. How blissful to not be burdened with thinking about what is around the corner; without trying to peer beyond the bend. How sweet it has been for me to be able to give them days of endless summer. Falling asleep with their hair still wet from the pool. Crickets and caterpillars. The smell of fresh cut grass. Lazy mornings. Blueberry pancakes. Bikes. Bubblegum. Strawberries. Fireflies. Corn on the cob dripping with butter. But, at the same time, this summer has been so profound and intense for my big little 4-year-olds. The summer started with the birth of their long-awaited much-anticipated heavily-adored sister. And it ended with the death of their mother's cousin. Life and death; bookends to an endless summer. It began with their questions and statements about new life. And it ends with their questions and statements about the end of it. That is the most incredible thing about life with 4-year-olds: just watching as they try to make sense of it all. Just knowing them as they grapple with wrapping their heads around it all. It isn't just that they are curious and inquisitive-- they take it further: they create their own meanings out of all of it. "Bad news," said Owen, as we drove to the airport to drop Meera and I off last week. And then he announced, matter-of-factly, "My June died." "Wow," Braydon and I both said. Not knowing quite what to make of that. A few minutes later, after some silence, he proclaimed, "Good news guys! I have many other Junes!" The boys are regulars at our local bagel shop. Teenage twin girls are working there often when we go in. But this weekend the twins weren't there. That night as I was tucking him into his bed, Kyle said, out of the blue, "Mommy, the twin girls at the bagel store died." It doesn't matter that Braydon had told him that the girls had gone off to college, Kyle was adamant: "They died, they really, really did died." Yesterday afternoon, cuddled up in towels, warming up in the sun, they both wanted me to know: "We don't want to be in Heaven. We want to be with you." "You are with me," I said. And they jump in the pool. Huge jumps. Big splashes. Unafraid. Two little fish. They hold hands in the shallow end and circle round and round singing "Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down" and they dive under the water, hands still clasped tight, and with their eyes wide open they find each other's lips for a big underwater smooch. They pop up, faces straight up to the sun. Glistening. Gleaming. Screeching. Laughing and yelping, "MEERA! Watch us Meera! Watch us baby sister! WATCH THIS!" And from her little chair, poolside, she recognizes their voices and smiles and baby-gurgles and drools in delight with it all. This is our endless summer.


Mark and Sarah said...

Oh, what a beautiful post. Endless summer. Let it go on. Blessings on you as you mourn the loss of your cousin. Glad you're *back*.

glamah16 said...

Great post. You have captured the cycles and goings of life. Glad to see your writing agian and I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers.

Life in Fitzville said...

So sorry about your loss. Children are such a brilliant reminder of life, love to hear their thoughts!