The story I can’t stop telling

On Friday night Grace was sleeping over at a friend’s house and Matt was out, so Whit and I had dinner together.  He picked a single daffodil from our back yard (the single daffodil in our back yard) and put it in a small vase for a centerpiece.  We sat down to a table set for two, with napkins and silver, and ate some lasagna that Grace had made the night before.

“This is good,” Whit said between bites.  “But if you made it would be better.”


“Well, it would be full of love.”  He chewed.

“I think Anastasia and Grace put love into this lasagna, Whit.”

“Yes,” he looked me right in the eye, and said without a hint of guile,  “but your food has more love than anyone else’s in it.”

Saturday morning, before hockey practice, Whit was milling around our room in his long johns.  I was still lying in bed.  He climbed in next to me, nestling under the covers and curling his body against mine.  I reached out and pulled him to me, noticing again how lean he is now, all long planes and sharp angles.  I could smell the back of his neck, could see the pale blond fluff where his hair ends and his skin begins.  Matt looked over at us.  “What are you doing?”

“Snuggling with Mummy,” Whit answered.

“Whit, you can bet Zdeno Chara doesn’t cuddle with his mother before he practices.”

I glared at Matt.  “Who cares?  I bet he used to.”

“Yeah, Daddy,” Whit mumbled.  “Who cares?”

Still, my eyes blurred as I held my son against me, my awareness of how numbered these days are so piercing I couldn’t have spoken without sobbing.  It won’t be long until my 7 year old son wouldn’t be caught dead snuggling, much less seeks my embrace out.  Before I know it a Friday night dinner with his mother won’t be the cause of major excitement.  I am sure I will remember that single daffodil, leaning in its overly big vase, with heartache.  It’s still fresh and yellow down there in the kitchen, and I’m already mourning it.

There’s no question I’ve found the story I can’t stop telling, the drum I’ll beat for the rest of my life.  Yes, as I’ve said, my subject chose me.  This way heartbreak and joy are woven into every moment of every day.  They are the two walls of this hall we walk down, one at a time, this life, these years.  When I stare at the back of Whit’s neck I fall into the chasm of memory.   Images of his infant neck and all the years in between telescope and I feel a kind of vertigo.  The speed with which it passes is simply breathtaking, and the immensity of the miracle of another human being overwhelms me utterly.

“It’s time to go, Whit.  Let’s get your pads on.”  Matt called over his shoulder as he left the room.  I glanced one final time at the back of Whit’s neck, squeezed his still-birdlike shoulders, and I let him go.


20 thoughts on “The story I can’t stop telling”

  1. My 9 year old son and 7 year old daughter don’t want to be seen snuggling with their dad in public, but still want snuggling when they’re sleepy. You’ve got some time yet!

  2. You’d be surprised. My college-age boys are really, really good huggers. And they still love my cooking above all, except maybe breakfast on Sunday mornings at Zoe’s. And they both are willing and generous around expressing their love to me and my husband. Hey, in my book, it counts when a 21-year-old returns my car to me with new wiper blades, tires properly inflated, and a full tank of gas. Plus a hug!

    The first time I ran into my younger son, when he was just a few months into his great college adventure (but somewhat unfortunately for him,just two blocks from home), he picked me up and spun me around–in full view of his classmates! It made me deliriously happy. And when both my boys get haircuts, they know I’m forever entitled to run my fingers through the fuzz on the back of their heads.

    Give lots of snuggles now, get lots of love, in new forms and expressions, down the road– that’s my guess as to how this works. I’m confident you’ll be the recipient of all sorts of love from Grace and Whit forever and anon. It doesn’t stay the same, but it never ends.

    P.S. The tower at Mt.Auburn is open again…

  3. First, I’m with KH; those cuddles you’re sowing now will come back to you. My almost-18-year-old doesn’t snuggle with me, but he does with his sister, and he still lets me kiss him and hug him. And she (at 15) still comes and sits on my lap with some regularity.

    Second–did you punch your husband? What a comment!

  4. “I reached out and pulled him to me, noticing again how lean he is now, all long planes and sharp angles.”

    Oh yes, I feel this with my 8yo too. But he still will snuggle and I think he will for quite awhile.

    On a side note, the other night I was putting him to bed and he wanted me to lay down with him. I was tired and told him I wanted to just go relax in the living room. He said, “I know momma. You can get your book and lay next to me and relax. It’ll be so relaxing.” And I thought of you – the side-by-side reading. And I did – and it was relaxing. Later he said, “See momma. I told you it’d be relaxing.” So precious are these moments. I question why I would even think to go to the living room when I have this alternative.

  5. I know exactly, and I mean *exactly* how you feel. Fortunately, I think they come back…I keep telling my William that some day he will be on tv after some big football game and he will be saying “Hi Mom! I love you!” He smiles, and I think he doubts me, but there is enough belief in his eyes to give me hope. 🙂

  6. I’m right there. My daughter just sent in her acceptance to college and my heart is elated for her and, well, a little deflated, too.


  7. My son is two years older than Whit. He usually sleeps with me when my husband travels. He is not a huge snuggler, but I sneak in my time. When he is sleeping, I hold his hand, or kiss his head or ears.

  8. Cryng my face off here at work. My baby boy is almost 5 and I fear the day he will no longer cuddle with me on a seconds notice. This morning he was staring at me while I was getting ready for work and said “Mumma, sometimes I just like to look at your happy beautiful face”. My heart grew a thousand times over from that one simple sentence. What a blessed woman I am.

  9. Wonderful story! I have girls, 23 and 18 they are both cuddlers and huggers. I love it! I can’t imagine having kids that don’t hug and kiss me. It’s a gift from G-d.!!!

  10. All of my children are grown. To this day I still get hugs on special occasions or if we havent seen each other for awhile buy I especially love the ones that are for no specific reason at all.

  11. All of my children are grown. To this day I still get hugs on special occasions or if we havent seen each other for awhile but I especially love the ones that are for no specific reason at all.

  12. Wow. Thanks for the tears. 🙂 I don’t think I have ever related more with another’s story! Mine are 3 and 3 months and I try to cherish every single moment.

  13. You story really made me think about my son who is 15 going on 25! My son has to be one of the most independent young adult I have seen in a long time! I must say even to this day he still comes in my room and like to cuddle! He is such a wonderful young man! Even thou he doesn’t need mon very much anymore, he still likes pto come in there and lay down with me; mainly when he has just woken up and is cold! I’ll take what I can get! It’s hard to let go and watch them grow up but I think they will always come back to their mamas!

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