You built a fort in the basement, so tall that it nearly touched the ceiling tiles. I helped you clip on the fabric. You brought a lamp inside and said it would look like a glowing fire from the outside, with the red and gold fabric all lit up.
But then you left it standing for two days and never played in it at all.
This morning you started taking it apart. “But you haven’t used it yet,” I said. “Why are you taking it down?”
You had been planning a fort party, you said, but you decided not to do it.
“You don’t usually have time…” you began. You were too kind to finish the phrase.
Maybe what you saw in my face looked like anger then. I wish I had told you I was only angry with myself. You had simply voiced the accusation I had silently flung against myself a thousand times.
I convinced you to reconnect the pieces you had broken down.
“Did you see the flowers on the Rose of Sharon yet? Want to come with me?” I asked, but I was ashamed because I knew it was just a weak attempt to make up for so many squandered opportunities.
I carried you on my back to keep your bare feet dry from the dew. Maybe I also felt that there was a weight that needed carrying — a burden I deserved to struggle under.
Down where the driveway trails off into grass, the bush’s first purple blossoms had opened. Together we searched them for a scent. It was barely detectable, but you said Mmmmm anyway. Such a blossom deserved to know it was appreciated.
“What about the blueberries?” you asked, so I carried you 20 yards farther only to find the bushes bare, stripped even of their green berries by indiscriminate birds.
“The grapevine?” you said next, so off we went, climbing the hill to the edge of the property. I climbed, that is. You giggled — arms around my neck, perfect pink cheek pressed against my ear — while I pretended to struggle like Samwise on the slopes of Mordor.
At the top, you reached over my shoulder and picked a firm green grape. At your urging I reluctantly bit into it. A fit of facial contortions and spitting followed. You dissolved into giggles again.
A few minutes later you slid off my back in the kitchen and ran off with your brother. Simple as that, your cup was full.
Lord, help me to hold it with a steadier hand.