Time

I. Time is a gift.  Just ask my 4-year old.  It’s all he wants.

He’s not interested in a nice vacation or a fancy car, just time with me.

Time to play with trains, cars, and small trucks.  To sit on the floor and chat as we run miniature vehicles over tracks, bridges, and construction sites pieced together with tissue boxes and blankets.  Or maybe to perch on small stools at a miniature table surrounded by construction paper, Scotch tape, string, and bits of colorful ribbons, wrapping up those small vehicles and giving them to each other as gifts.
“Mommy, can you just try to forget what I put in here?” he asks as he awkwardly folds light blue paper over the Little People bus driver right in front of me and pulls out eleven inches of tape, truly believing that an affirmative answer indicates a mother’s memory immediately erased.
“Yes, I can. I have no idea what’s in there,” I pretend, amused by his satisfied smile.  I wait as he winds the tape around the package and watch him hide the bundle under the bookcase with the other surprises.  Later, he tells me, we will have a party to celebrate this, my twenty-first birthday.
It will be my best birthday yet.

 

II.  I light three candles at church, creating a glow that sends love and peace across the country to a place where a family grieves one of life’s worst losses, the death of a young mother.  The first candle is carefully lit for my friend, the second for the beloved cousin she lost to Leukemia a few days ago, and the third for a 3-year old girl suddenly left without a mother.

It is difficult to stop lighting those candles.  What about that woman’s grieving husband?  Her parents?  Her sister?  Sometimes there are simply too many candles to light.

It is my worst nightmare, this idea of dying and leaving young children behind.  Growing up, I knew six young people from three different families who were orphaned when their parents died.  One of them, a 6-year old boy, lived with my family between the deaths of his father and mother.  He was separated from his 2-year old brother, who lived with relatives during that period.  I also knew two families who had lost their fathers in car accidents.  Losing my parents was a regular source of worry in my teen years, and this was transformed into a heightened sense of my own mortality after I had children.  I have probably never admitted to anyone that I often catch myself assuming that I will die young.  This is true, despite the fact that both sides of my family have a strong history of longevity.  I take photos, capture special moments on video, and write about my experiences with my boys to preserve as much as I can.  To leave a trail, I suppose, in case I am suddenly gone when my children are too young to fully remember me.  Perhaps fearing that I can be forgotten as quickly as a hastily wrapped Little People figure in construction paper and tape.

I think about the loss of this young mother and feel the sadness wrapped around me like a very heavy blanket.

 

III.  “Mommy, can we make Halloween cookies?” he asks after church.  I nod.  “Yes, we can. Do you want to help me make the dough while your brother is at soccer?” I ask.  He does.
He measures, counts, and tries to read the list of ingredients with me.  This boy who wants to be a baker when he grows up cracks eggs like a pro and fishes out the bits of shell that inevitably make it into the bowl when he is put in charge.  He is proud of his work.
After adding the eggs and vanilla to the shiny aluminum bowl of the new Kitchen Aid, I tell him he can control the mixer.  “What number, Mommy?” he asks.  Consulting the manual’s description of each speed, I instruct, “Number 4, please.”   He gradually moves the lever up from 1 to 2, and then pauses.  Looking at me with dark brown eyes I know well from my own mirror, he asks tentatively, “Can we just leave it at 2 this time?”  I consider for a moment that mixing the dough on a slower speed would stretch out this special time together, and that on some level this is what he is asking for, and in fact is all he ever wants from me.

“Of course,” I tell him, “that’s fine,” and smile down into those eyes.  “Thank you, Mommy,” he says softly, and reaches out his little arm, linking it with mine, drawing me closer.  “I love you, Sweetie,” I tell him, and kiss his forehead. “I love you, too,” he replies, folding himself into my arms to be held.

The time we have together now is really all that matters.  How clearly I can see that today.

 

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19 responses to “Time

  1. I spend many a sermon daydreaming as I watch our flaming chalice flicker. Time is all there is between us. I will surely never regret the extra time it takes to bake or do anything with the help of little hands. I’ve got a great whole wheat pizza dough recipe for your boy! 😉

  2. Aw, man, I really tried NOT to cry, Jordan. This is simply achingly beautiful. Sending out prayers for your friends in their time of loss. And more prayers that you have a long, leisurely life together with *all* your “boys” big and little. xoxo

  3. Your post is amazing and beautiful. Thank you!

  4. Beautiful words.
    I am trying lately not to be in too much of a hurry, which is my natural state, and I am really trying to incorporate the journey into my life and not just the destinations.
    Prayers to you and your friends-
    jennyalice

  5. simply beautiful, and such a sweet message to savour every moment and to try to make the moments count….

  6. Oh Jordan, this is so beautiful and warm and sad, and joyful too. I’m so sorry about your friend.

  7. What a beautiful post, Jordan. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Give those sweet boys an extra hug–I’ll be thinking about this post all day, taking my time, trying not to get wrapped up in anything more than the moment at hand.

  8. Lovely, Jordan.
    It’s so easy to get caught up in day to day Stuff that we forget about the time happening right now. Right in front of us.
    This post made me want to bake up some cookies after school today!!

  9. Jordan,
    You never cease to amaze me. You have such a loving and giving heart. I too have the fears of leaving my family without me, and your inspiration that all the kiddos really need is time, reminds me that laundry and dishes can always wait! I hope one day to make it out to see you in Chicago!

  10. I’m just 2years younger than my mom was when she died. The irony is that facing our mortality isn’t morbid. It’s the only way to truly cherish our living. As always, your honesty and compassion make me pause a bit longer – thank you!

  11. What a lovely post, Jordan. Just lovely.

  12. Kia (Good Enough Mama)

    Beautiful. Your four-year-old little guy sounds a LOT like my Little Man. He too knows that time is a gift and that baking is awesome baskets full of fun! 🙂

  13. Oh Jordan, this is lovely. I’m an so sorry for your friend’s loss, for that little girl without a mother. When I read that, I felt as if I had been punched. You are doing just what I would do, gathering your sons close, loving them as you do.

  14. Perfect.

  15. And I can’t believe how much Bax has changed since I saw him – just 5 months ago!!!

  16. I tried not to cry..Im sorry about your friend

  17. A beautiful reminder to cherish every moment. Thank you for this.

  18. This is so beautiful! Thank you….
    xo

  19. Beautiful post, Jordan.

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