In the stillness of the night, in a dimly lit hallway, I rest my hand on a door and whisper the last refrain of a French lullaby I sing every night. My son, drowsy and oblivious in his crib on the other side, will blindly reach out for his lovey, a stuffed dog, and settle into what I know will be a crouch-like position on his stomach, as he has every night since he started rolling over.
Je t’aimerai toujours…
I don’t know why I started doing it: singing softly to my sleeping son with a door between us. He doesn’t know I’m there nor what the words mean. He will never remember this. But I still do it. Every night I put him to bed.
La nuit comme le jour…
My body aches. The cuffs of my shirt are damp from bath time, sweet potato puree stains the collar, the mascara I quickly applied this morning in my rush to get to work is now gathering underneath my eyes, highlighting the exhaustion that I feel. My husband places our dinner on the table. But still I linger, hand on the door.
Et tant que je vivrai…
I think back to a couple hours ago, when, out of all the toys scattered on our floor, he chose to play with a simple blanket, tossing it over his head while I feigned surprise that he “disappeared.” His laughter filled the room, the contagious sort that catches you by surprise and forces you to laugh as well. I think further back to those sleepless newborn nights, when, every two hours, I would trudge half-asleep down the darkness of this same hallway to answer the squalls of a hungry belly. I think back to a month before he was born, when I broke down in tears at the kitchen table upon the realization that soon he would enter this great, strange world and I wouldn’t be able to protect him from everything. That this physical connection created between us would soon be broken. At the time the thought shocked me to the core, and it still touches me today: I will not always be there to comfort him, to shield him, to defend him. That he will never know how strong this love binds me to him, like an invisible string connecting my heart to his.
Tu seras mon bebe.
I believe the most powerful love is sometimes the least visible. It may not be felt, remembered, or seen. And that’s okay. Because the love is still there. My son won’t remember the afternoons as a toddler playing on the floor with his blanket, nor being rocked back to sleep after a bad dream, nor being sung to on the other side of a door. But the love was there. And later when he recoils at my kisses and won’t sit on my lap and feels like he doesn’t need me, the love will still be there. And maybe someday, when he has a child of his own, he will stand in awe and wonder at that tiny person who now takes up his life, and an invisible string will connect their two hearts forever. And he will realize. That the love will always be there.
And so I continue my nightly tradition, sending my song through a door to the sleeping boy on the other side who is blissfully unaware of the enormity of this love, the power of this unseen connection, this imperceptible string. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that, visible or invisible, the love is there.
This, I believe.
Note: Today’s post was a little different for a couple reasons.
1. It’s not “funny.” I spent the last couple weeks on comedy taking a stand-up class where I took my writing and crafted into jokes I could perform. Because he makes up a good part of my life, my son was the subject of 95% of these jokes. I felt I needed a little break from joking about him.
2. It follows a prompt, specifically the prompt established by Edward R. Murrow and the This I Believe program he began. It is a writing exercise I completed along with my students this year. I think they found it as challenging as I did. You may read more about this This I Believe organization here.
3. It’s not quite finished. Like a lot of my more serious writing, I am not quite happy with this piece. I don’t think any writing is ever “done” and this piece is far from it. But I felt the need to post something because it has been a while.
I hope you enjoyed it or were at least happy to see me pop up in your mailbox once again! (If you haven’t subscribed, you can do that over on the right-hand side. The posts are a lot easier to read that way, in my opinion.)
I intend to post more often from here on out.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day.