I’ll admit, Confession 101 style, I have been obsessed with Anemia. To the extent that I’d forgotten who’s stalking whom. I’m out of touch with areas of my life that express who I am – my bike and the second novel – but I have good news. I know about the little things.
On Friday afternoon I lay on the bunk of Big H’s bed and listened to him practice cello. He’s sporting a shaggy, don’t-mind-if-I-do look. From up there I could see how curly his hair was. No wonder the girls at my work love him.
Big H had a horrid grade six. He became insular and didn’t do any school work, whenever I showed up to speak to his teacher, I’d see the students’ work hanging up and none of it was his. His confidence was gone.
The last thing I expected him to try the year after was cello. When I got the notice about the music information night I didn’t clear a space for it, as if. But Big H was first in line. Soon the sound of him tooling about on his cello became the sound of everything being right in his world.
This is Big H’s third year of cello and he’s teaching himself a theme from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ That movie is on my Top Five Sentimental Favourite of All Time list. It cannot be separated from the collection however many movies I see.
So I lay back, my head on his pillow and listened. He’s new to the piece, there are notes he hasn’t seen before, he played, stopped, ‘No wait,’ went back and re-started. This from a kid who doesn’t like to try and try again.
I listened to him play and got a good size lump in my throat.
Big H, he plays for himself, maybe a little bit for me, and he plays for discovery. I think of his cello and he as a version of ‘a boy and his dog’.
Last night he said, ‘We learnt four beautiful new notes today and they sound so good when you combine them.’ I wrote it down. My son sees beauty in four little sounds and I say thank you for the small things.
Small things are nice things.
Stephen King Junior is a nice small thing. He’s ten, but we are not the tallest family, and he’s one of the smaller kids in his year level. It’s funny though. He has always had biggish hands.
SKJ and me had a rough beginning, Post Natal Depression found us, and we had a combative relationship. When I say we, I mean me, he was a toddler and I was afraid of him, so combat.
When we moved into the house we’re in now, SKJ was just over one and was new to walking. He had to tackle seventeen steps so I’d walk next to him and hold his hand, up, step, up, step. A slow ascension, but a close one.
We still do it.
I drop my hand for him to hold every time. It’s as easy as breathing for us and for me, it’s equally important. I hold his hand, walk the steps, and cherish the less than half minute it takes to get to the top.
Yesterday after school we walked our stairs. We’d had a busy weekend, a busy Monday, parent-teacher interviews. I often feel like I’ve hardly spoken to my kids, that the real stuff is lost in all my, have you got your lunchbox, where are your shoes, monologues. We walked the steps and I squeezed his hand, hello, I love you and got one back. It’ s a small and nice thing and I’m thankful.
Thankfulness comes in all shapes and sizes.
This morning Hilda and I went for a spin off-road. Yay! The trail had changed in the four weeks it had been since I’d been there. A corner had been re-surfaced, it was soupy and I nearly lost it – slow down, straighten up.
My skills were a little off – too much brake, not enough smooth – and I felt spaced out for the first ten minutes, I rode conservatively and was happy to be there.
A dragonfly shot past overhead, its wings glistened like steel. Do they really only live for a day? Well, that was some smooth flying. Dragonflies make great use of their twenty-four hours.
Butterflies have been big this summer. I’ve started to equate the presence of butterflies with the presence of my little sister who died last June. Not that they are Libby, but she’s around.
On the way back to the car, with only minutes left, I saw a butterfly. I don’t know the species, it wasn’t big, it was orange and black, and it flew carefree, like it was on it’s way to the shops with all the time in the world.
I reminded myself that butterflies are seasonal, I’ll ride the trail soon and there’ll be no butterflies. How would I feel then?
That’s life, I told myself. Libby died, she was a blast when she was here, the butterflies will die, and that is appropriate. The idea didn’t hurt at all.
It doesn’t take being sick to be thankful, but it helps. It doesn’t take something big to be thankful, a Ferrari, a world trip, ripped abs, a song in the Top Twenty, sure, a holiday would be good, but all that stuff would own me.
Thankfulness does take paying attention. Like noticing ‘small’ things, seeing that the small stuff is the big stuff. And for that I’m thankful.