Ordinary life: pink petals, Jimmy, and the pain of saying goodbye

Yesterday was just another ordinary day.  A day of my life, bracketed in the morning and the evening with reminders to open my eyes and to appreciate what is right here.  It’s amazing, now that I see these nudges, how many of them there are.  I wonder how myopic I must have been, all those years with my eyes focused on that next thing, to have missed so many messages from the universe.  Well, were the messages from out there or were they from in here, the most intimate place there is?  From my spirit, my soul, my very life?

Early in the morning I set off to take the subway (the T) to a meeting.  I was walking down the familiar street to the T stop, a walk I’ve made hundreds of times in the nine years we’ve lived in our house, my nose buried in my iPhone.  I literally stopped dead in my tracks when I stepped onto a carpet of pink petals.

You can see I had made my way onto the edge of this gorgeous drift of pink petal snow before I woke up, literally.  I stood there and took pictures, breathing in the faint smell of the blossoms, their perfume spring incarnate. (not quite Princeton’s magnolias, but close).  I looked up and saw the cerulean blue sky through the pink branches.  And I was ashamed, truly, that I would have missed this.

I tucked Whit into bed tonight hugging Jimmy, the class teddy bear who spent the weekend with us.  Every weekend Jimmy visits a different classmate in Whit’s Beginner class, and this was ours.  Grace and I were just starting to read about Hermione and Harry’s vociferous defense of Sirius Black when I heard a strange sound from upstairs.  I paused.  “What’s that, Gracie?” We both listened.  Nothing.  I started reading again.  The noise started back up.  It was Whit, weeping

After a few moments where I tried to figure out if he was posing – yet another new trick to postpone bed? – she and I went upstairs to check on Whit.  He was lying in bed, face awash in tears, clutching Jimmy.  I sat on the edge of his bed and asked him what was wrong.  His words were punctuated with sobs as he choked out how upset he was to say goodbye to Jimmy tomorrow.  “Oh, Whitty,” I said.  My heart felt like it leaned over in my chest, angling towards him.  Deep in my chest I recognized his pain, the brutal symmetry of love and loss, so much on my mind lately.  I told him I know how hard it was to say goodbye to things we love. 

A few minutes later, Grace and I were reading again when I heard Whit ask quietly, “Will you snuggle me?”  I looked up to see him standing forlornly on the stairs, Jimmy held against his chest.  “Of course,” I answered.  After I kissed Grace goodnight, I went upstairs and lay down on Whit’s bottom bunk..  I curled behind him, singing along in a whisper to his lullabye CD’s version of You Are My Sunshine, listening to his sobs grow slower and quieter.  After days of being all bravado and bluster, he had dissolved back into my emotional son, my little boy with big feelings, and I thought about how often he will shuttle between these two poles over the next few years.

“Are you ready for me to go?” I murmured against his neck.  “No,” he said quickly, quietly, and so I lay with him for another song.  And here I am now, at my desk, eager to get going on a new essay idea I have.  But first I have to put pictures of Jimmy’s visit into the class album, with narration of his weekend activities.  I’m not annoyed that I have to do that before my “real” writing.  This is also writing, in its own way, the writing of my ordinary life.

22 thoughts on “Ordinary life: pink petals, Jimmy, and the pain of saying goodbye”

  1. thank you for your beautiful writing. this weekend i read katrina kenison’s book through tear-filled eyes (what a soulful read) and am committing again and again to become more fully present in the sacred, ordinary moments of my life.

  2. Beautiful post, and a wonderful reminder.

    It made me remember how yesterday, while Rebecca, Lucas and I watched “The Secrets of the Mountain”, there was a scene where the older sister explains to her mother why she and her brother were fighting so much. It was an emotional scene where she recalls being ridiculed by classmates and a her brother’s friend because she was “a freak”. Her brother stood by and watched while it happened.

    It made me tear up of course, but what I didn’t notice at first was how my little Lucas was hanging his head, hiding the tears. He was so upset. I scooched in between him and his sister so that I could put my arms around both of them and kiss the tops of their heads. I didn’t say anything, just let him feel that I was there.

    Thanks for reminding me about the importance of those little moments. 🙂

  3. Mercy! Whit is such a sweetheart. He’s just like so many of us. Full of spunk and pizazz, but yet quietly caring and sensitive in his own ways. I love your stories of Whit – every misadventure and every quiet snuggle.

  4. This is so sweet. Let me first say that I cannot wait for the day I get to read Harry with my kids. I will probably try to force a 1 year old to care about it just so I can reread. But what an adorable son you have! Such a beautiful pic… and darling story. It’s amazing how much we can love when we are little…

  5. he knew the answer when he came to ask you to snuggle. Isn’t that the most remarkable? He knew you would help him conquer this hurt, the lonesomeness of love. I am awestruck by the brilliance of that experience.

  6. These “ordinary” moments are some of the most precious. Our bodies seem to retain some sense of them, like a physical memory. Once they become teens, these moments of easy but very necessary consolation disappear. As they must.

    So feel them, honor them, write about them. They’re lovely to live, and equally so, to read as you communicate them so poignantly to us.

  7. Okay I cannot resist… get the kid a beer! I’m only kidding. You wonder if you are doing the right thing, or doing enough. But the memory of his body bent into yours, simply sharing the pain, will mean everything to him when bigger griefs come and he has to deal with them on his own. The practice of honoring his feelings and reaching out for support will help him do the same down the road. How much better than the message little boys often get (all of us really) that they must not cry, that they must pull themselves up and bury the emotions and go on. Jimmy’s visit seems worth much more than a “beginner’s” level.

  8. I, too, have a little boy with big feelings. And it both breaks my heart and brings it infinite joy, much like Jimmy the Bear. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. I share your love for pink petals. Thank you for photographing and writing about them! They come and go so quickly (kind of like the days of our children’s childhood) It’s great to stop and take note of them….

  10. What a sweet, sweet boy. There is something so tender about a little boy and a stuffed animal. Emotions and unconditional love… melts my heart!

    (and is it wrong that I can’t get past that teddy bear traveling around? I hope he makes frequent stops to visit each washing machine 🙂 It sounds like such a great activity, but the mild germaphobe in me is cringing!)

  11. “How often he will shuttle between these two poles over the next few years.” I have two boys, the oldest is soon to be four and I wonder this ALL the time. They are still so young and need me so much, but what I’m more afraid of is the need I have for them and for the fear I have that a day will come and they will find this kind of comfort from someone else. It terrifies me.

  12. “The writing of my ordinary life” should be your book title, Lindsey. And this post? Just one more glimmer (or piercing laser) of beauty that you have the gift of not only seeing, but inviting. I am more awake, more aware, more alive because of your words. And the deep truth that such is also true for your children? Tears, Lindsey – of gratitude and awe.

  13. Lindsey: {And I was ashamed, truly, that I would have missed this.}

    And this is the gift of the writer – not only did you not miss it – but….

    Ronna {I am more awake, more aware, more alive because of your words.}

    You are one hell of a writer. Yes.

  14. How fantastic that Jimmy becomes a collective transitional object, a single “animal” (soul symbol) into which every child can invest love and tenderness. What an encouraging little sign that an intuitive teacher and a group of loving children co-create a chance for Jimmy to become internalized as a shared experience, carried throughout life forward by every child.

    And thank you for sharing it, as I get to feel love for Jimmy too (and all the kids), as this is what we parents can do: build the pot together and throw in enough love to feed all our collective children.

Comments are closed.