Written by Emily
On Friday afternoon the five of us perched at the end of the dining room table to watch home movies on an old computer attached to a camcorder, relics from our not-so distant past.
We were piled on top of one another, not out of necessity but out of complete necessity, leaning into one another. Shouting memories into the air. Giggling.
Noah had to pee. “Pause it! Wait for me! Don’t start another one without me!”
He scaled my chair, all long legs and boy muscles wiggling onto my lap that used to be plenty big, now not quite.
He was the lead in most of the movies, vignettes from a past he can’t remember anymore. There were moments his dad captured when I was away that revealed snippets of a boy I once knew. On the screen his cheeks were even rounder than I remembered. His arms were still soft, his knuckles dimpled, his hair ringlets of gold.
As we watched, Noah slipped his hand into mine. There are muscles there, too, and rough patches from his hockey stick–the end wrapped in skull and cross bone tape. His smooth pudgy fingers are long and lean now. A bump is beginning to surface from gripping his pencil to make the deliberate curves and dips of his numbers and letters.
He’s growing. Sitting there on my lap, he’s growing.
When he gets down, I wonder how much time I have left with him still wanting to squirrel onto my shrinking lap. He’s already practicing eye rolls and sighs. He answers with a sharp tongue sometimes.
He’s a big little boy.
Even when he sidles next to me, it’s not for long, a few minutes to catch his breath and he’s gone to compete against imaginary opponents on imaginary ice in the basement.
I want to hold onto him and ask him for a few more minutes, so I can remember the way he moves his loose tooth with his tongue, so I can remember the way his short sandy hair feels against my cheek, so I can remember him like this in this moment today. Because the boy in the movies, I had forgotten him a bit. I lost him in school days and soccer games, hockey games and homework. I lost him, and I miss him.
And tomorrow I’ll miss the boy who squirmed on my lap and howled at the chubby boy in home movies.
Sometimes when it’s 5:00, and I’m just seeing his face for the first time in what feels like weeks, I whisper in his ear, “I miss you.”
“I miss you, too, Mommy,” he promises as wraps his arms around my middle. Then he’s off.
I let him go and watch him run into his imagination. Eventually he’ll want to go farther than that.
Every day is practice…
for both of us.