In the moment, I thought it was a big truck rumbling past. Sitting on the sofa with my daughter, playing with her alphabet animals book (did you know that Z is for Zorilla?). But the truck just kept getting bigger and closer. Bigger and closer than seemed possible. Then the pictures started rattling on the wall, and the windows shook in their panes. When I figured it out, I scooped her up and ran outside without even our shoes (apparently exactly what FEMA doesn’t recommend). There, I saw an assortment of our awful neighbors. You’d think the Psychic Reader two doors down wouldn’t have looked so surprised. The lady who’s son stole our car a few years ago was – as usual – oblivious, and only asked me the baby’s name and what the next day’s weather forecast looked like.
After the shaking and quaking were over, we assessed the damage (a couple of crooked pictures on the wall, the drawers of our nightstands all rolled open, and the cats looked distrustful). The real price didn’t become clear to me until the next morning.
As I walked my child into daycare this beautiful, sunny, unseasonably temperate morning, she was instantly swept up in a small, sticky tide of children on their way out to the playground. I was left with an empty stroller and a full lunch bag. Also an unsettled feeling.
I parked the stroller, put away her lunch and went out to the playground to find her and say a proper goodbye for the day.
Even at the risk of setting her off into crying at the second and more deliberate separation, I couldn’t bring myself to just slink out unannounced. A grim thought, but if something happened to me during the day, her last moment with me should be one with eye contact, a planned parting and an “I love you.”
Even a mild earthquake like the one we experienced gives many people an instant’s pause. Did you tell your spouse to drive safely this morning? Did you tell your child that you love him or her? I try to make a habit of marking those dozens of small transitions daily. Good morning, sleep well, I love you… each so small, but I believe they form a mosaic of consideration, warmth and respect – a pattern I want my child to derive comfort from, so she can grow confident and feel secure.
Life moves so quickly, it’s very easy to forget some of the simple niceties. And we don’t have all day to cherish our loved ones. But those little moments when we leave one another, wake up or go to bed are special. These transitions can become tiny moments of connection.
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