The other day when I enthralled you all with my word portrait of our growing William, I kept thinking of so many more things that I want to remember when these lightning fast years have raced by. And race they will, if my friends and other parents with older or grown children are right, it's a matter of blinking and you're taking them to their first day of school with a perfect new lunchbox and a spirit not yet wounded (hopefully) by other children's ridicule or unkindness. And all the hope in the world that life will be good, so unbearably good for them. That their innocence will last. That no one will hurt them, ever. But even as you wish it, you know this wish won't come true. Blink again and they've grown and you're in your house on your own and it's very still and very quiet and there are no children's toys anywhere and no smudges on the windows or building blocks in the toilet or small cars in your shoes and suddenly you have all the time in the world for those things you used to wish desperately you had more time to do.
It's probably because it's his birthday tomorrow that I feel as though each moment is graced with a sort of poignancy. I always have felt deep, unexplainable regret at the official markings of passing time. New Years Eve used to fill me almost with a kind of sorrow at the thought of the year disappearing, birthdays while happy occasions, remind me of simple, precious moments that are lost as the calender page turns. You go out into the world and nobody knows that you used to be a child. Maybe that makes no sense but it's how I've always felt. That when it's Christmas or someone's birthday or any other special day you had better make it count from start to finish and say always make sure to say "I love you" one last time before bed...let the person, whether a child, parent, or friend, know how much they mean to you. Because it is all so finite.
I think I think too much.
But I am often prey to sudden and deep surges of feeling over mundane things. Like yesterday evening, we went out shopping for balloons and little things for William's birthday and in the mall, he was racing ahead of us and he still runs kind of funny. Like the fact he doesn't fall over is pure chance. Arms waving and legs propelling him forward with lurching motion. As he ran he was laughing this huge, free laugh that was just pure energy and joy. I think only children know how to laugh in such a way. I could see his little brown feet in his sandals and that his hair was sticking out all over his head and that he still has chubby rolls at the back of his neck and as he laughed and shouted "weeeeeeeeeeeeee" (because it was just so fun apparently) and I laughed too but I also felt a sudden and deep sense of loss already for the time in the future when this little boy as we know him this very moment will disappear. I can't explain it better than that.
Today we went on one of our long and leisurely walks downtown and on the way home we sat on a bench by the harbor to eat our yogurts. There were two people fishing and as we sat they both caught fish and took the fish off their hooks and let them flop to death on the pier. I am the sort of person who is bothered by things like this (I can't help it:) but I don't think fishing is wrong of course and I didn't want to turn William against something he might possibly enjoy as he grows up a bit so I didn't say anything at all. But as wild a little man as William is, he has a really sweet heart. I saw him look over at the fish and he put one hand over his heart and said "Fish is hurt Mommy. Poor, poor fish." Then he sat there for a long time with his little dirty hand on his heart repeating "Poor fish...poooooor fish...oh, hurt...hurt fish...fish go i water" And I thought for all his stubbornness and noise and the fact that he occasionally succeeds in frustrating me until I actually cry, he has a gentle heart. I'm not sorry.:)
The name William actually means "strong defender". That was one of the reasons we chose it. I hope that he lives up to his name and is brave, strong, kind, and a defender at any cost of those who need defending.