Do you remember the night of your birthday party a few month ago? The night with the roasted corn and homemade guacamole, unusually cool temperatures and a quilted-together guest list of family and friends and loved ones? As the party ended and you grew tired, your grandmother suggested we roast marshmallows and tell stories around the fire pit. And Bee, the part of me that is responsible and a touch overprotective started to respond that it was already past your bedtime. But it was your birthday, and something within me wanted to celebrate with you a bit longer. So we stayed. It turned out to be the most magical evening I’ve experienced as your mother.
You people-watched around the fire, listening to stories of your namesake Papa Bill and playing with your toes. You were uncharacteristically still, as if you understood the weight of this night. That the heaviness and mixed emotions swirling around the campfire – feelings of grief and joy and time – soaked up the earth’s gravitational force and there was nothing left for the rest of us. Because the night was so much bigger than you, or me, or your father. It was bigger than everything.
You grew tired quickly, and instead of crying, you snuggled in closer under the blanket and I rocked you slowly as we watched the stars. The campfire voices and marshmallow scents faded into the night as you fell asleep, and then it was just us – our breathing in tandem with the realization that everything is connected and no experience is singular. It can’t be. We’re all under the same sky.
And Bee, this is what you teach me daily – if I look for it. If I watch and listen and sometimes succumb to later bedtimes and impromptu evenings around the fire pit, you teach me that life is big. That it’s real and true and important, and it’s more than my small attempts to control the details of diaper bags and avocado stains and skipped naps.
We created that memory together, and I know we’ll create more if we wait. Because those sort of nights are like the stars that guide them – rare and mysterious, always pointing to light.