Exactly one month prior to his seventh birthday, our son, our boy, creeps through the dark early morning across the hall from his room to ours. Snuggles in tight, then stretches and heaves out a great sigh, as if at last, he has come home.
An hour later, my husband and I stand over our boy, admiring him. The thick thatch of wild bark colored hair, the impressively long hoppers popping from beneath the comforter at a jaunty angle. The broad boyish form of him slantwise across our king sized bed, sprawling in claim of his territory.
"Where did our little boy go and when was he replaced by this large creature?" asks my husband.
We smile. "He's almost seven," I say. I remember the long ago poem my husband sent me -- way back when, when we were colleagues and friends, emerging over time into pen pals and eventually lovers of the most old fashioned sort -- courting.
I had wanted a home crawling with children. I'd imagined myself a Louisa Mae Alcott character, like Jo from Jo's Boys. I'd fancied the idea of a heap of family. I really was born to be, as my friend Joan laughingly accused when our boys were in kindergarten and I'd headed off to the park with a string of borrowed children hand in hand: the old woman in the shoe!
For such a long long time, I held that dream. Mourned it. Wept it. And then something happened. I forgave him, and I forgave myself.
Where did all that sad go? Poured into loving my family, as it is. Into hand washing dishes, year after year. Into laying on the floor with my dog, whispering to him my secrets. Into gardens that fed us after I'd tilled and cried at the same time. Into working and earning a master's degree. Into nurturing the children I teach, into becoming a better daughter, into becoming quite nearly as good a wife as I have been a mother.
The sacrifices have been great. As has been the pain and the missing. It has not always been pretty.
Where did it go? The time? The missing? The sad? The little boy? The wild at heart lovers? All here, transforming into something deeper and longer lasting, making me all the more aware of the fleeting nature of living in this human body in this human world. Our tender places and the wounds we all carry. The grace that fills up the empty places, cleans us out, allows us to move forward.
The beauty and contentment of now has been worth every. single. moment.
And now, we admire our boy at nearly seven. He is beautiful. WE are beautiful.
I am truly madly deeply in love with the journey that is emerging as this messy little God filled life. The man. The boy. The woman I am becoming. The larger family into which we are interwoven, along with the community we are co-creating.
Make room for the beloved, I quoted for years. And here we are. On the way. Together.
Thank you. And Amen.