Elihu got walloped with whatever it is that’s been going around these days. He’s spent the past two days in my bed, mostly sleeping. Last night we awoke at the same time, and by the dim closet light we began to talk. Earlier he’d asked if I could bring him ‘sick Teddy bear’ (mine from my own childhood), and now he wanted to know more about the bear, and how I’d felt as a girl when I was sick, and how I felt when I held my bear. “I talked to him when I was sick.” I told him. “And truly, I swear I believed he heard me, and that he understood. He was so real to me.” We looked at the simple stuffed toy and both agreed he looked very capable of loving a child back. I’ve recounted stories of my childhood to Elihu many times, so there aren’t any new stories of note, but I know how he feels when he prompts me for more. I remember asking my own parents what things were once like, long, long ago. I hadn’t cared if I heard the same stories over again, and nor did he. We were off into sleepy, middle-of-the-night chatter. Soon it began taking on a contemplative quality as he continued…
“Just think, grandma and grandpa were married longer than you’ve been alive”, he said quietly. “And I can’t believe that you and daddy were together more than twice as long as I’ve been alive”, he reflected, trying to get inside these enormous ideas. We lay there, quiet, just enjoying the warmth of the covers, the trio of favorite stuffed animals between us, and the nearness of each other. “Mama, I love you” he’d said, reaching his small hands out to me for contact. He sighed and looked into my face. Time passed and we laid there for a long time, saying nothing.
Earlier I’d told him about a time in my life when everything had been going right, yet I couldn’t shake a feeling deep down inside that something was missing. I remember one moment specifically: I was playing a show in which many of my favorite musicians were playing, I looked great, sounded great, felt great – I was going home to a man who loved me and I lived in a gorgeous home to boot… every last damn thing could not have been better… And yet all night long a voice kept repeating “Is this all there is?”. Now, many years later, here, in this present moment it became clear to me. None of that – as enjoyable as it was – compared to this. It was full, but it wasn’t complete. “This is all there is” I said as I looked into my son’s eyes. And then he repeated it softly, thoughtfully, in agreement. It was a moment of perfection as no other. Nothing nagged at me, nothing distracted me, and my heart was overflowing with love for my precious son. “Sometimes it’s good to be sick” Elihu said. “You get to just stop listening to the world and stay quiet and cozy. I don’t feel good, but I do, ya know?” I knew.
This is all there is.
Reality is fast approaching and another bustling school morning will be here much sooner than we think. The alarm clock will signal the end of our little oasis in time; it will shatter the spell and bring us robustly back into the world. But we’re ok with that, because we had our moment. We’re rested, restored and ready. What a blessing those sick days can be.