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Not That Little
The clock ticks to 8:30 and the obnoxious sound blares in my head. Beep; beep; beep. It drags on until I find some strength to roll over and hit snooze. The sun is blaring in my eyes.
“Mom. Dad. Mom. Dad,” my 7 year old son had said as he walked in.
I couldn’t help but laugh as he crawled over me to lie in between us, kicking me at every possible chance. We closed our eyes and played our new game. I put my hand by my side and he stretched his little fingers out as wide as possible. He gripped onto my hand as soon as we touched and I had no time to react.
“I got you, I got you!” He didn’t let go. If I had known what would happen that day, I wouldn’t have let go either.
“Yes you did Dylan now go get ready for school. And make sure your sister’s up please.” He climbed back over me and made a loud thump when he hit the floor. He raced no one to the door and slid around the corner. “Be careful!” I shouted.
“Sometimes I wonder about him,” I thought out loud.
“He’s a little boy. They pop back up within seconds after any fall,” Josh responded.
“Not so little anymore. Only a few more weeks until he turns 8 you know.” I reached for my phone. “And right on schedule. Hi Mom, how are you?”
Josh whispered that he’d be in the kitchen.
“Hi honey! I’m doing fabulous. Did I wake you?”
“No it’s fine. How’s Dad doing?”
“This is one of his better days actually. He remembered who I was this morning.”
“That’s awesome Mom. Is the nurse there yet?”
“Of course. She’s here all day everyday.”
“Did you tell her about him remembering you this morning? What did she think?”
“She called the doctor and they are still not sure whether or not it’s alzheimers, but for now they want us to focus on spending time with him.”
“Okay that makes sense. Can I talk to him for a little bit? It’s been awhile.”
“Yes sweetie.” She put the phone on mute while she searched for him.
“Hey Mags. How’s my favorite daughter?” Hearing his voice was the best part about that day.
Every Monday I tried to make pancakes for breakfast. That Monday was no different. I leisurely flipped pancakes, Maddie came down to join me. I said good morning to her and she responded with a weak, tired smile. That day her hair was down; natural so the loose curls fell just below her shoulders. I’ve always loved how the olive color of her hair make her eyes pop out as bright as the sky. Sprinkled across her face are little brown dots, which she hates. I think they make her look younger, which I love because I would give anything to keep her from growing up. Especially now.
That morning she took her breakfast and sat across the table as Dylan came running down the stairs, this time against the dog. Dylan almost tripped over his tail when he tried to let him out.
When he opened the door the crisp scent of spring came rushing in. “Go boy. Go outside,” Dylan had said with a smile on his face showing how proud he was that the dog would listen to him. He sat down next to Maddie and his hair fell to his face. I brought him over his pancakes and he pushed his hair back. I looked up at him, making a face to let him know he was forgetting something. He looked confused before realizing what I meant and then quickly said “Thank you.”
The alarm starts going off again but I’m not ready. I know there will never be a time where I am ready for today, but I still want more time. I think replaying the day in my head will help so I keep going.
I had pulled around the back of the school to let Dylan out.
“Bye honey have a good day!”
“Thanks Mom! Love you.”
“Love you too!”
I watched as he clumsily walked towards the school; his dirty blonde hair flopped up and down and his backpack shook with every step. He looked up with a big smile on his face and ran in his Chuck Taylor’s over to his friends. I got caught up watching him but then someone honked their horn and I had to go. I drove away thinking how he had always had his father’s smile.
I have finally forced myself out of bed. I forgot about what happened to my leg so standing up was that much more difficult. I walk downstairs to get some coffee.
The hardest case of my career was of course the case right before that day. There was a neurosurgeon who somehow operated on the wrong side of a person’s brain. Not surprisingly, the patient and their family were concerned when they learned of this. After working for weeks straight, which meant barely seeing Maddie and Dylan, I was able to limit his punishments to being suspended of his license for 2 months.
They had always known that me being a lawyer meant odd hours and long nights. I had known it too since the start of law school. I wish that I had realized sooner how little time I would get with them.
I zip my dark dress up as it reaches my mind.
I had asked Dylan how school was that day, only really caring about anything his teacher had to say that day.
He told me that all of the boys raced and that he came in first. Everyone then thought he was the fastest in the school? I think that’s what he said.
“Wow that sounds awesome! How did you do on the math homework that I was helping you with last night?”
“I got some of them wrong and my teacher said she might want to talk to you soon I think.”
“Okay thanks for letting me know.”
As a mother, I could not have been happier in that moment. His youth was still as clear as day. His only worry was whether or not he was the fastest in the school and I was glad that he had this to hold on to. He may not have known it but that moment, was everything he was made up of. It was the competition, the fun, the seriousness. It showed the love, his family, his friends. His compassion, how much he cared, his support of others; it was all there. After only 7 years he had it all.
By now I’ve tried several times to come to peace with this being enough. What I have yet to fully understand, is that his youthfulness won’t replace my void.
The part of me that needs to be filled seems to have affected me more since it’s been missing then when it was there.
We then went to get Maddie from the high school. She walked with a group of her friends, laughing with each other the whole way over. I knew by the look on her face that she was about to ask something.
“Maddie I told you this morning that I have to take Dylan to soccer so I’d rather not have to drive you around. Maybe another time though okay?”
“I can not wait until I get my license. Wait Mom. Is my birth certificate in the car? Can I drive us home?” she asked. She needed more hours outside of drivers ed so I thought why not.
“Be careful. Stay under the speed limit please and take the short way home.”
“Thank you Mom! I will I will I promise.” I got out of the car and moved to the passenger seat.
I knew from the start Maddie would be a good driver. She is level headed and realistic about her decisions. I knew she wouldn’t risk anything while driving, because that’s how she is with everything else in her life. She always finishes her homework on time and she is always studying. She stays as far away as possible from the people who smoke and drink. She’s never shown any interest, to me at least, about dating a boy. She mainly just keeps to herself, which is not a bad thing at all and she still has friends, so I’m okay with it.
Her blinker was on 100 feet before every turn, she always was aware of her surroundings. She pulled up to the intersection and looked to the left and then to the right. She saw nothing except for a flash of something on her right. She thought nothing of it.
Dylan asked her to turn up the music because his favorite song was playing. She pushed the pedal and then leaned over to turn it up. They both smiled and started to sing.
She looked up as it hit.
I heard her scream.
My body had snapped to the left but my right leg was caught. I felt it pop. I didn’t know what to do so I just screamed.
I remember not being able to see.
There was no give when my head collided with the air bag. It felt like a slap. My seatbelt locked and forced me back.
Dylan cried out.
I had heard a window break and I felt the glass fall. Dark, red liquid began to trickle down my forearm from cuts made by the sharp edges.
I heard the brake of the other car screeching, trying to bring it to a stop.
And I still can’t believe that I am standing here, at my son’s funeral.
We sat down.
Everyone paid their respects before the service began.
After hearing his name twice, listening is too hard.
It takes me longer to stand up and follow my husband to the altar than I had expected. Whether this is from the crutches or me being about to faint, I’m not sure.
When my breath is steady enough to force out words, I read. “Thank you all for being here today. I know it’s not the best way to reunite after years of not seeing some of you.” I look down and he’s squeezing my hand just like Dylan.
“I know there is a lot that has brought us here today, but I wanted to break it down. So, I start with my dad. He used to always tell me that little things mean a lot. I am sure that when I was younger, this made no sense to me. Or maybe it made sense but the ‘little things’ were crayons and Barbie dolls.”
I look up at Maddie. Her eyes are beginning to fill with tears. I glance away before speaking again.
“The day that we lost Dylan was just one of the many days I had forgotten what my father had told me. That day was very pleasant. The sun had awoken early. It’s artwork of colors took over the sky as the hours passed. He held my hand so tight that morning. The sky was clear, so clear that it was boring to an extent. He was wearing his Chuck Taylor’s. Maddie’s hair fell below her shoulders.
“That day I had known all of this, but appreciated none of it. This is the difference that Dylan has taught me.” I try to hold back my tears.
“I realize today that the little things? The little moments? Aren’t so little. The little things being waking up to the sweet shine of sun that peeks around the curtain and lands on your face. And the breeze that carries the fresh smell of flowers. Even the sky being a stereotypical blue. I hope- in fact I know, that I will be the person that finds the time to stop and see how the little things are never nearly as small as we think they are.”