is it real?

“Would you like to see my Christ Box?” my son asks me. He is holding a small, carved, wooden hingeless bowl with a lid. “These are things of God,” he tells me by way of introduction. He removes the lid and reveals two golden coins of indeterminate origin, a dime-sized smooth blue agate-like rock, and what looks like a beat-up brass washer. Now he holds the rock up now and instructs me: “This is blue and smooth and beautiful, for the Water God.” He thumbs through the two coins but rushes through these descriptions, instead finding the washer-like item to caress it. “And this is something God must have left for me, because I found it and it is beautiful.”

My son is so beautiful it breaks my heart. Daily he retreats from me, growing up and growing wild in his way, tall and lean and like a bramble, twisting up and up daily, growing without remorse. His hair is long and full of knots, his eyes infused with light and love, his summer tan and freckles glowing in the warm light of evening. His face is thin and wolf-like, changeling, but his smile is still innocent and mischievous, still the smile of his babyhood, and his skin and hair smell dusty and sweet the exact way his father smells. I hold him close and tell him it’s very important to notice such things, and then he is gone, to return his Christ Box to where he keeps it – I know not where.

It’s 11 PM now and I’m sitting after scrubbing a floor then cooking up a from-scratch chocolate cream pie. I’m not sure if there’s anything I find more cheering, humble, and heartfelt than cooking a few specific dishes – and chocolate cream pie is one of them. And there might not be anything better than doing this late at night, house clean and feet dirty, with the cheerful assistance of my daughter who is also wickedly funny. We’re discussing tonight’s viewing options, the bit of family movie we watch before we all get too sleepy to concentrate. I’m advocating for one of those documentaries on cryptids – predictable fare for me, I might add. “Most episodes are weaksauce, but that chupacabra was pure nightmare fuel,” my daughter laughs, a little tremor in her voice. She doesn’t get like her brother, terrified even to tears at times. It is hard to know what she is frightened of, what she fears. She runs deep but she is frank. Her brown is a deeper fawn-like brown and her cheeks blush like a rose, and her laughter has more warmth and is less harsh than her brother’s.

My feet ache and my knees have a twinge. Tomorrow I’ve an x-ray report I’m supposed to pick up, and we go from there to figure out the source of my mild, but chronic, hip and knee and shin pain. I pace myself, “the walk of an elephant”, yet even at this pace the home changes, opens up and blooms as I scrub windowsills and fold fabrics and wash windows. This evening in the waning daylight Ralph and I swept and scrubbed the living room and closets and a few places downstairs, in preparation for new furniture being delivered tomorrow. New for-reals-New, by the way. Perhaps my first-ever new piece of furniture? I’d have to think about it to figure it out, and I’m too tired for the mental exercise.

Gratitude beats down in my hard heels and is the company of the drum, even into the dark and into a bed of clean linens and a warm man and tangled-up children.

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