About A Boy

8 years old. Blond hair, neatly cut. Fair skin with flushed cheeks. Curious, trusting, clear blue eyes. Rosy, red lips in a perfectly content, relaxed grin. Wearing a plain red cotton t-shirt and blue jeans with the elastic waist and Velcro sneakers. I meet you in your wheelchair. I asked your dad what was the best way to get you onto the hospital bed to examine you. He picked you up easily in a bear hug, and your lanky, skinny arms wrapped around him, as your tight, contracted legs held their bent position as he plopped you gingerly on the bed. I listened to your heart and lungs, I pressed on your soft tummy, I noted the pull-up you wore with Buzz Light Year printed on the front. You never took those calm, trusting eyes off of me. You never smiled, but your whole face smiled at me. You never spoke, but your whole being spoke to me.

This was maybe two weeks ago, but my visit with you still pops into my mind frequently. It’s unpredictable which patients stay with us. We see patient after patient, and some just settle into our hearts and mind, lingering in our thoughts, reminding us that after they leave our care, they are still here.

What I remember about you is how sweet and happy you are. How you didn’t have to say a thing to let me know you trusted me. You trusted your dad. You trusted this world that you live in. On this day when you weren’t feeling well, you still smiled with your whole face.

What I remember is how well cared for you are. Your styled hair. Your clean clothes and newly changed pull-up. Your new Velcro sneakers and socks without holes.

What I remember about you is how much you are like my own son. Your lanky arms, your lanky legs, your fair skin with flushed cheeks. Your big, curious eyes, trusting me.

You came in for nausea and vomiting.  While this is something that has plagued you in the past, this time, it was just a stomach bug rippling through your daycare.  Your dad relayed this in sighs of relief.  Because this was something common. This was something other kids were going through. This was a “just-like-everyone-else” problem and not a “just-unique-to-you” phenomenon.

See, there are milestones that you and your family have not experienced. Your first word. Your first steps. Your first laugh. But there are milestones that are like gold. Those first hugs. Those first nods of understanding and communication. The realization that you are taking it all in, and those eyes are your window to experiencing and memorizing this whole world around you.

I cannot begin to comprehend how hard this life is for you, for your parents, for the three brothers that came before you. I also cannot speak for the immense beauty and happiness in your life.  But the one thing that I do know is that you are loved. You are enriching and touching the lives of your family, of those like me that have had the honor of meeting you. This I have experienced first hand.  You are louder than you could ever be in your steadfast ways.

You didn’t have to say a word, but you have touched me. I see you the way I see my son. A wonderful boy that is filled with love and that is loved.

Life is hard. It is hard in different ways for different people. But it is these moments of strong, quiet beauty that keep it tender and keep it worth our hardest work.

To All My Ladies 

Time spent with friends is different in your thirties than it was in our twenties. In our twenties, it was spending weekdays studying at the library, evenings ordering carry-out and huddled together on our dusty apartment floors watching episodes of Felicity or Sex in the City. It was weekend days together shopping or together at the street fair. It was late nights eating ice cream out of the carton and watching romantic comedies to heal from our latest heartbreaks with our right hand women at our sides, couch-style.

In our thirties, friendship is planning weeks in advance for that happy hour after the kids are in bed, or finding that one day in two months that we are both off during the day for a few hours and blocking it off in red on our calendars. For me, October 6th has been highlighted in red with the word LISA for the last two months. As we sift through the must-dos and the want-to-dos of everyday life, kids and careers and husbands and parents and housework gets to us first.

In the back of our minds, we still cherish those friendships that have carried us to this point, but everything else steps in our way, demanding our attention. In all of this, I’ve found one thing that has kept us connected and able to say, “Hey, I still love you from behind all of these to-dos, I am still thinking about you.” That connection happens through texts. Phone calls are hard to coordinate. When you are free to catch up on your drive home from work, I am elbow-deep in bubble bath scrubbing down three sets of sticky hands. It is even tougher to coordinate in-person get-togethers. But there are those times throughout the day when something reminds me of you or something makes me laugh or groan that I feel compelled to share, and so I reach out and you respond when you can, and that human, adult connection reminds me that I am not alone. I am here in my current to-dos and you are there in yours, but we are here to say to each other, “me too.”

It seems like a small thing. A silly thing. A text here, a text there. But sometimes, when you are feeling isolated in your day and feeling so overwhelmed by parenthood and adulthood, friendship is still that undercurrent that pulls you along and gives you that love that only sisterhood can give.

To all my ladies, I hope you feel me hugging and loving you through those sometimes texts, because I am feeling it from you and needing it to get me through, now that we can’t share a take-out carton of noodles or a lazy Saturday morning debating brunch spots. Our lives are fuller now, but it wouldn’t be filled without you still an arms’ reach away making me smile and reminding me you are right here with me.