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tales of something simple - a poem: to the Moon, the Stars, and Back

i believe

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

all types of chaos

a poem: to the Moon, the Stars, and Back

Last night I was putting my five year-old brother to bed.

The routine I am about to recount to you is typical,

As he tends to ask for the same special blanket and request the same little

Prayer.

But tonight,

Was exceptional.

He looked up at me with his denim eyes and straw-colored hair and

Suddenly asked,

“Jessica, if you were an animal…

what kind of animal would you be?”

I sit quietly for a minute and respond:

“I would be a bear.  A big white bear, but not a polar bear.  Just a beautiful white bear that all the other bears adore.  And I would hibernate all…winter…long.”

He appears satisfied.  Not sure if he needs clarification or further detail.

Five year-olds are like that.

He continues to pause.  He likes the start of this question game.

“And, um, if you were music, what kind of music would you be?  Would you be ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star?’?”

I smile,

“Yes,” I say.

“I would be ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ so that I could be in your ears, your heart, and your mind while you fell asleep every night.”

He doesn’t understand the sentiment of my answer.

He doesn’t know that at that very second I am thinking of the moment he was born.

The very moment that my life, my heart, and my family changed forever.  He can’t see my eyes well with rain.  He has no concepts of the pride and joy he automatically pronounces with his very presence.

He doesn’t know how much has given to the world in such a short time.  And to me.
”Is it going to be sunny tomorrow?”

He momentarily interrupts my walk down memory lane.

“Uh, I think so.  It might be really hot, too.”  I made it up.  I had no idea what the weather was going to be.  But children always believe what we tell them.  Because they trust us.

“Well, when the sun wakes up, can we go play outside?”

“Only once the sun wakes up.”

“I’d like to be the sun,” he tells me.  “If I were the sun, I would be so happy to wake up, because then all the kids could come out of play.”

He makes me laugh.  What a character he is.  Where does he learn to say things like this?

I wish I was five again.

“Well, you might as well be the sun, my love,” I tell him.

“You are the sun, Jessie.  When you wake up, we are going to have a chocolate marshmallow and then you are going to take me on the swings.”

I roll my eyes.  I never should have given him that last bit of chocolate after dinner, promising another piece tomorrow.

“Time for bed, silly man.”

“I need water, Jessie.”

Of course he needs water.  Always water before bed.  Just another reason for five more minutes awake, five more minutes of knowing he won’t miss anything.

I say, “If I were water, I would be the ocean.  So we could swim together all day long.”

He likes my comment.  He kind of laughs—the laugh that makes his eyes get so small from smiling that they almost shut.  A little giggle, like he wasn’t sure if it was exactly funny or ironic, but he smiles for me.

As I descend the stairs to get him his last minute request, I wonder when he will stop asking me silly questions, and ask me about hard things.

What does big sister say when his heart is broken for the first time?

What will I say when he doesn’t make the soccer team?

What will I do when he encounters his first bully?

Will he still believe my answers?

Will he still trust that as his sister, his oldest sister, that I know everything and that I will always be able to make it okay?

I remember the first that that he smiled.  He was wearing an orange, white, green, and blue striped jumper.

He was sitting on this couch my parent’s used to have, staring up at us with amazement and curiosity.

His head was so bald and his eyes were so bright and when he looked at us, he thought the whole world was perfect.

He was perfect.

And our sister, Emily, she did something, I can’t remember what, and Chase thought that it was terribly funny.  So funny, that his little red, baby gums came smiling up at us.

We have a picture of it.  But you can’t see the whole story.  I have the story.

The moment was so new, so innocent, that his cleft chin might as well have been a heart tattooed to his face.

And then I knew.

I knew that he was the definition of unconditional love.  The meaning of patience.  The true test of energy, strength, and vulnerability.  The very epitome of rose-colored glasses and the glory of youth.  I never wanted him to grow up.

But he will.

He will grow up and he will feel pain.

He will discover the world in ways that I have, and my sister has.

He will see things that hurt him.

He will smile.

He will dance.

He will know frustration.

Happiness.

Discontent.

Love.

Lots and lots of love.

Chocolate-kisses kind of love.

When you just can’t get enough.

I so want that for him.

He has a mix of my mother’s nose and my light hair.

My Mom’s stubbornness.

My sister’s easy laugh.

My sense of humor.

There is no creature more beautiful.

As I walk up the stairs, it is unusually quiet.

I turn the corner,

And there

He is.

All thirty-five pounds and fast asleep.

His blanket squeezed tightly in his fist and the other outstretched in the place I was previously sitting.

I know he’s waiting to really fall asleep when I come into bed.

I put the water down, and I tuck myself in next to him.

I watch his chest rise and fall, rise and fall.

He breathes softly, and I wonder if he knows that I am there.

He must know.

I lock this moment into my mind.  I put it into my mental keepsake box of times not to be forgotten.

I say a silent prayer, that someday and someway,

Even when he is old and gray and far removed from the typical teasing’s of being the “little brother,”

He will remember this night too.

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