To Marcus, on your "best day ever."
We told you that we were taking you to a sand mountain, but none of you really understood what that meant. When you Sleeping Bear Dunes, you all were shocked. “Can we climb it?” and I said “Of course,” and I could see in your eyes that you had no idea mom and dad would ever let you do something so awesome.
Marcus, ever since you were a tiny baby, you have had a certain sparkle in your eye. It is as if you are amused by everything. Now that you are older (five,) I understand the sparkling soul behind those eyes a little bit more. You see it. You see the wonder, the absurdity of this place we live in. You see the irony and the hilarity and adventure around you (and if you can’t find it, you create it.)
Nana was with us, and every kid, and daddy, too. The weather was perfect- low 70s, cloud cover, and a gentle breeze. The hill climb was steep, but you ran ahead with the older three. We climbed the first giant dune, then a smaller hill to the dune cliffs. When we caught up (I had to carry Peter for a short ways,) daddy taught you to dune jump while I caught my breath.
My foot has only been out of the fracture boot for two weeks. But it doesn’t hurt, it only pinches a little. “Hun, be careful,” daddy said. “We can’t handle another six weeks with you in a boot." Indeed… but dunes are just so awesome. I think my eyes sparkle like yours in such a place.
My first jump was a quiet one, because I didn’t want you to see me learning any hard life lessons if there were lessons to learn. But I landed in the soft sand on my heels, and it was WONDERFUL. No pain, only a body that can still fly in Lake Michigan air. I made sure all the kids watched for the next jump. I love when I impress you and make you laugh. (Nana thinks I’m crazy to act like a kid when I’m a mother of six.. she shakes her head, and even that makes it more fun.)
I jumped 3, 4, 5 times, then I stopped to catch my breath. Where did Marcus go? On another cliff I saw you, ready to run. And run you did, like a cartoon character whose feet move so fast that you can see only dust. And your laugh--- oh, how you laughed as you ran! It was a giddy, almost maniacal laugh. It was the laugh I hear when you take your bike down the hill and the pedals move so fast you can’t keep your feet on them.
You stopped where the ground leveled a bit to whoop with joy, then you ran back up the hill to do it again. Your brothers and sisters joined you (though Eldon and Peter needed to hold a big person’s hand), and we played until we were too sand-logged to take it any longer. (As I write this I still have sand in my ears.)
We gave you the green light to run free down the giant hill. Again, I saw it- that look that says you can’t believe your mom is so cool that she would let you do this. And I thought, what a God, who made a sand mountain like this, for children like YOU, and a mommy like me.
And everybody ran, and I ran too. Lorraine had Eldon’s hand, so we went more slowly. I remembered how to take ridiculous giant steps down the steep sand hill, and I taught her. Even stepping feels like flying on the dunes. But Marcus, you ran, and again I heard your crazy laugh. Your wheeling legs worked hard, but you lost control, and you crashed, a cloud of limbs and sand and laughter.
Back at the van, I passed out water cups and your eyes continued to dance. “I will never ever forget this day, mama,” you said to me. (Have you, son? I want to remember too, but will we?) You told your daddy about your crash when he caught up (he’d been running slower with Peter.) “That was a sweet wreck,” you gloated, “I will never forget this day!” I want to remember this day, too.
And on the way home you couldn’t get comfortable, so I let you lay on me. You slept, and you drooled on me, a little, and I teased you, but not too much. I didn’t want you to move away. You rolled over to your back and rested your head on my lap. You let your mouth hang open and your fists unclench. I noticed the rock you had taken from the beach, resting in your hand. It was a speckled rock, and you wanted to save it forever because this day was so great.
You sound like your mother. I save days too, with words not rocks. I am saving this one for me, and for you.
(added to my Gilead. )