I’ve been in the car hours before dawn, one piece of my heart sleeping upstairs, another in the backseat, another driving. I’ve been down these roads that I could navigate in my sleep, the turns I know through memories painful and good: the nighttime drive to deliver Little Brother, the morning one for The Kid, and countless ones to take him to the Children’s Hospital where they’ve poked and prodded and hurt and somehow helped.
I’ve been in this waiting room before, or one like it, holding him still, assuring him all is well, both of us sweating, me through my clothes and him through the gown they gave him. I’ve taken him back before, heavier each year, held him as they’ve pushed the liquid through the IV and his head has rolled back. I’ve kissed him after they’ve laid him on the table, unresponsive, told him I’d see him soon as I prayed for his safety through tears.
I’ve been here before, and yet I haven’t.
I’ve been on the couch–our Atlanta couch–watching Mickey with TK and LB, and I’ve waited as the characters urged responses from the viewers, and I’ve yearned for TK to talk back, to say just one word, and I’ve waited in vain. But this time, on this couch that is ours yet also not, I”ve heard him respond, heard him answer their questions easily. And not only that, but I’ve seen the additions to what I’d hoped for: the jam dance they learned from their Aussie friend, butts wiggling in front of the TV, laughter punctuating their movements.
All the other things we’ve picked up across the ocean: the growth, the friends, the early-morning texts as they are going to bed, frantic mornings that, when we return there, will be replaced by frantic nights and mornings of messaging. People on both sides of the world, our lives richer than we’d hoped.
“Did you ever imagine your life would be such an adventure?” The Dad asked the night they got here, and since sarcasm is our family’s first language, I’d waited for the punch line–but it didn’t come. He meant it, and it’s true, the waves that have swept me to New York and Atlanta and Sydney, that constantly resuscitate me to grace. The truth: that there was never a time it wasn’t there.
We melt into each other on the couch, these jet-lagged moments that we never would have had were it not for the waves. My boys and I, a unit so much stronger and more blended than we were before we left this house. Before my “no” followed by my weary “fine.” Fine: do it again. Upend my life. Destroy my agenda. Love me fully.
I waited for years to hear the sounds I heard the other night from The Sis’s kitchen: my boys playing with their cousins, the boy and girl laughter, the friendships forming. We only had to move across the world for it to take hold.
And now I sit, waiting again, suspended between his going in and coming back. Like we were in the hammock in the backyard that is now both our home and a place we visit, willingly held by the ropes that keep us aloft while digging into us. Like we are between time zones, between cities, between continents and days. I know I’ll think it when we get back, as I stare out my bedroom window into the night: How is it possible that they’re beginning the day I’m ending? How is it possible that we have more than ever before, in so many places?
How can it be that I should gain? That this grace that will wake him up and return him to us in an hour will fly us to New York then Sydney, will hold our hearts even as the ropes that keep them aloft dig in, hurting yet healing and bringing us always to more, to life.