Monday, July 21, 2014

Make A Chain

David mentioned something recently that made me feel a little sad.
"Remember when the boys used to hold hands?" he asked.  "They don't do that anymore."
I stopped for a minute and gave it some thought.

Quite some time had passed since I'd seen one brother grab reflexively for the other's soft, sweaty paw.  Dave was right.
Really?  Is it over? I wondered to myself.  I wasn't ready.

I remember the last time it happened, actually.  We were in the parking lot of the Best Buy, here in town.  It was February of 2012, and we were purchasing a new TV for the Living Room.  I saw the little guy extend his hand, and the big one took it. My heart fluttered, and I fumbled through my pocketbook for the phone.  I must have suspected we were nearing the end of something noteworthy.  But then, they let go.  The exchange was over before I could take the picture.

The snapshot I failed to capture became a memory.  Just like the last time they scrutinized toys for the bathtub or crawled into David's lap to read together.  Back then, I just wanted them to hurry up so we could watch one program that wasn't a cartoon before we went to bed.  I didn't realize these tender moments would fill me with such longing.

If they were holding hands through the neighborhood at this stage of the game, I'd probably suggest they knock it off.  It would be weird.  Still, I wish I could see it once more.

When Desmond and Rory were toddlers, they were always cooperative with my hand-holding initiative.  Crossing a busy street or maneuvering through a crowded shopping mall.  Two darling lads in matching shoes and complementary outfits, I can see these early versions of my sons so clearly in my mind.

"Make a chain," I would say as they got older.  This request sounded much more grown-up than "Let's hold hands."  In a way, I wanted to get as much mileage from this sweet little gesture as I could.

Both children hold my hand unselfconsciously.  I love it, but I don't insist. Desmond's hand still seems small, but he is nearly my size.  I am stunned by what a magnificent specimen he is becoming.  Sometimes, he'll catch me looking at him.
"What?" he'll ask.
"Nothing," I'll say.  "I'm just admiring you."  It's the truth.
"Okay."  He doesn't seem to mind yet, and I'm glad.

Bro's hands are always clammy, but he is adorable and well worth the discomfort.  It's like adjusting to the temperature in the pool; you get used to it after a few minutes.  But instead of refreshing, it just feels gross.  His fingers are like little Vienna Sausages, pudgy and dripping with moisture.  They smell like processed meat.

But the sight of these boys reaching reflexively for one another... That was very different.  Seeing them hold hands made me feel like I'd accomplished something wonderful.  Among the tedious lessons they were often reluctant to embrace, I had taught them to value and protect the relationship.  To feel safe with family.  To somehow stay together.

And it always looked so precious.

"C'mon now, make a chain."

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