He’s always been different to the others, in soul and stature. From the moment he was born. He was so big. I remember the doctor in East London (South Africa) said, after looking at the scan, “Hmmmm I wouldn’t rush out and buy tutus and ballet shoes. This is a boy. And he’s much bigger than the first one.” He certainly was. I roared the hospital down with him. Nurses rushed in, wide eyed, “What’s going on?” Me: “I’m. Having. A Baby!!! Roar. Roar. Roar.” They dimmed the harsh theatre lights to a soft warm butter light to ease his arrival into this troubled world. He was perfect. Fat. Strong. Dark haired. They says babies can’t see when they’re first born. He could. He looked around at all of us, very slowly and very diligently, before taking his first earthly breath. He was strong from the beginning. So strong. He walked at nine months. And has always loved his food. I’d line his cot with bottles for the night. His chubby giant hands would find them in the still of night; he’d drink to his heart’s content and fling them out when done. In the morning, he would lie there in his little suits, smiling, gurgling, in a planet of empty bottles.
His eyes are like skies, wide and blue, my second born.
He never saw words on a page, but the gaps between the words which made shapes of giant trees and ships which I could never see until he traced their shapes for me, with his grubby, fat fingers. Worlds would leap from between the printed pages, like magic, until they were all I could see too. I'd marvel for hours afterwards. The years have flipped by, like pages of a calendar and he is going away to boarding school. Because he wants to. Tomorrow we make the long journey down south, taking lots of plane rides until we get to the town near the sea. And I will leave him there, with labeled clothes, new uniforms, far far far from me, across darkling plains, past mountains, 'cross twinkling rivers, crinkled blue wild landscapes, to another country. Far from me.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said to me the other night, “I’m so excited!”
And we must be too. When I kiss his cheeks goodnight and hold him just a little longer than usual, inhaling his particular scent, my eyes closed, feeling the waves of emotion rise, from my toes up to my throat, I pretend I am Queen Elizabeth 1. She never broke. Well. Not in front of her people. Not in front of the children. She ruled the land and the seas. She was strong. And she was also alone. She managed, somehow. And I will too.
Our children do not belong to us. They pass through us and out and we have to let go…Like the first day you take them to school and you watch them walk away from you for the very first time, in starched new uniforms, little legs still dimpled behind the knees that only a mother can see, with those wee wings brand new, freshly unfurled, glistening tenderly in a new morning sun. They will say things and do things that you won't know about. Over the years you watch their wings grow stronger and stronger and before you’re ready, they are.
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…” Queen Elizabeth I, Tilbury Speech.
toodely ole toot, y'all and bisous X.X.X. heartfelt ones before the journey. x j