Posted on | January 7, 2016 | 4 Comments
I always make J hold my hand in parking lots. It just makes me feel safer. Usually he balks at it or gives me a look… but not this time. This time he slid his hand into mine without a single complaint.
Banks was a few steps ahead and we were all talking about who knows what, following him into Target where I picked up one of those red plastic baskets. We turned the corner down the first aisle, and my steps suddenly slowed. Banks plowed on ahead but I couldn’t speed up; something was weighing me down, or perhaps lifting me up. There, tucked forgotten in my hand, was the hand of my child. He was chattering about something, probably the game he was about to play in the electronics section, and hadn’t yet noticed that his hand was still tightly gripping mine.
Banks turned and started to tell us to pick up the pace, but his eyes met mine then trailed down to the twisted love knot of hands and he paused. He slowed his steps to match ours and looked at me over J’s head with a smile.
“It won’t be long,” he murmured, knowing without me saying that this moment would pass too quickly. Knowing as I did that in the swiftest matter of moments he’d be too big, too grown for holding my hand. Because it won’t be long, you know, these moments of childhood where I am his and he is mine? It won’t be nearly long enough.
I was reminded of the conversation I had with a friend as she battled for her life against the cancer that eventually won. She was angry, so angry, and sad… and she said to me that her daughter was her whole world. Her whole damn world. And yet, at only almost three, there was no way her life would ever be shaped by her mother. Her little girl would grow and age and become the person she was meant to be and her mother, my friend, would be just a faded memory in a photo album, no one she ever really knew. It wasn’t long enough for them, those three short years.
But it never is.
I choked back the tears as J noticed he was still holding my hand and sheepishly pulled away.
I watched him run ahead to the video game and felt my shoulders curl with the weight of reality… the weight of understanding that, God willing, his whole life is before him and mine is not. Age tugged at the length of my spine until I felt that I would crumble with the knowledge that I am older than I often believe myself to be, and time is continuing to march its way across my body and mind.
We never really know, do we, how much time we have left? How much time the people we love have left. So we reach for tiny hands, we kiss the tops of foreheads, we yell “I love you” out the window of a moving car so it’s the last thing they hear us say.
Because there’s no telling how much time is left or how quickly it will evaporate into wisps of memories that will one day, all too soon, disappear.
So no matter how much longer I have to hold his hand in mine… it will never be long enough. I will always want one more moment… one more hug, one more kiss, one more squeeze of the hand… one more “I love you.” And I will write those moments down, over and over, creasing them into the folds of my heart so they are treasured and remembered for the special-ness they represents.
Even if it’s just a moment in Target, when a little boy forgets he’s “too big” to hold his mother’s hand.