The night before I turned seven years old my mom was sitting on the edge of my bed tucking me in. I remember how soft her hands were, but not the expressions on her face; her voice and how it sounded hopeful. I’m not sure if I know the moment more from her re-telling of it or because it was such an identifying instance from my childhood like who your first kiss was (although mine wasn’t until college). I can still recall my room being the ideal temperature and that I was in a nightgown that felt like a hug, with even the backs of my ears feeling clean after a bath. There’s all of that and then the most dominant memory of all from that moment: how I felt a lack of control in the universe.
Trying to evoke the sense of elation and eagerness I was expected to have for the approaching festivities, that she herself probably had after planning them, my mom asked me a fairly traditional question on the eve of my birthday…”Are you excited?” I just started crying.
“But Mommy, I’ll never be six again!”
Maybe I’ve told this story here before. In fact, I’m sure I have, but I just thought I’d bring it up because that story, just like being a sentimental six-year-almost-seven-year-old, is part of the past. If you read my sister Maddie’s post the other day you know that after the doctor told her the growth in her colon was cancerous, the darkest thought she stewed upon for hours was: what if she died? Of course that’s what her mind fixated on. It’s what we all wondered in the weeks following her diagnosis.
With Maddie completing her twelfth and final chemo treatment five days before my birthday this year, I never thought once about being sad that I was getting older or that I’d never be 30 again. With Avalon hugging my neck and slobber-kissing my face, I just sit thinking how a real baby is all I’ve ever wanted. I think about this line from Marina Keegan’s short life…”The middle of the universe is tonight, is here…”
My universe is Scott and Avalon and my family and friends. It’s this tiny house that might be ours for a few more years or forever. It’s salty waves and sun damaged skin and fingers with tortured nail beds and too many rings that love to type truths as best they can. It’s relatives that seem to revel in being happy, or sad. It’s curly hair, it’s passing anxieties, it’s lumpy couches and big dreams that I try not to be scared of. It’s a husband who I have such an all-consuming crush on.
My universe is here, is now, is tomorrow, is not mine to control. And I just might ride the mini-ramp Scott got me every day until I’m 32 or 79. I might ride it right to the hospital. I might ride it with Avalon and whomever might come next and whomever might come into our lives after that.
And I will be so in love with every tomorrow I have, even if sometimes I’m afraid of it.