Sometimes I carry fear between my throat and the back of my tongue, like orange safety cones slowing me down, reminding me to be cautious but making my breath sluggish and my lungs overworked. The panic catching and closing my throat. Hope for me is sometimes like floating soap bubbles, glossed with rainbows, but far too tender, easily popped between careless fingers or a wayward branch or just simply out of my reach.
My son can’t read. He can’t write legibly. He can’t tie his shoes. Or wash his hair. Many times he puts his clothes on backwards or inside-out. What I fear most is what will happen to him, down the road. I can’t imagine my life without Sean but I also think he couldn't imagine life without us. We are a house of cards, each needing the gentlest support from each other. If one of us falls then we all do.
Sean is teaching me to live in the present by example. The past is in the past and the future is a luxury that I can’t afford. What is certain is the littlest moments, the ruffled red hair peeking out of covers in the morning, the boy spinning on the wooden merry-go-round, back arched, laughing or little sunburned arms and cheek smelling of chlorine. This is what I have. Today.
I've spent a lifetime musing about the future or over-analyzing the past. Taking so much for granted. Moving with speed and greediness, forgetting that life is finite, wishing it away or letting it slip through my fingers like wind -- until it is gone, distant memories that make me incredibly nostalgic.
I recently wrote this poem about Sean when I was thinking about how much he enjoys life without caution or concern. He swims in the ocean, rivers and lakes without much thought. As a toddler he climbed high up in trees or over fences, balancing his small body with perfect ease. I want him to be safe. I can’t bear to think of him hurt or scared or alone. And yet I admire his bravery and how he embraces the moments -- without over-thinking the past or future. He only knows how to live in the present, unencumbered and free.
A Bird in the Hand
I held him tenderly
a ruby throated hummingbird
his racing heart too quick
and impatient for this world.
He begged me to unfold his gossamer wings
Tucked gently behind angel bones
To lift him into humid air
Toward flowers drenched in nectar
His body growing restless
In my palms he thrashed and scratched
His escape futile.
I am far too selfish
To ever let him go.
Katie Donohue 2009
7 months ago