These little moments of normal are burned into my memory, like a picture is etched into a camera. Like waking up this morning to JB cooking breakfast for everyone, and Nathan and Aiden cleaning the kitchen. Like running them to band, and hearing Emma say this is awesome. Or seeing their faces on the field as they are playing their hearts out. At one point, the music swells, the cymbals crash, and the full emotion of the moment hits me. I'm on the sidelines of the field, choking back tears! At this moment, I have a clear view of all of my boys performing in front of hundreds of people. Together. I wonder if they know the words at this point in the song? It's Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". At this moment, when the emotions show as tears, and I can see all three of my boys, these are the words:
"The first time, ever I saw your face.
I thought the sun rose in your eyes.
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave,
to the dark and endless sky my love"
I suppose it could be that music just moves me. But I think its more than that. I am filled with this sense of pride in my boys. Grief for the little babies they were, but are no more. Excitement for the young men they are, and the men they will turn out to be. Sadness that my father, who loved them more than anything, isn't here to see his grandsons shine. Frustration that my family that is here, is missing this. Relief, that JB is home, and my family is whole, and together. And then just like that, the music changes, and the beat goes on. Only Emily and I, out of the hundreds and hundreds of people that witness this moment every week understand its significance. JB started school and marching band three weeks behind everyone else. He worked so hard to get caught up, and he did. It amazed everybody. Nathan, until recently, was cripplingly shy. For him to perform on the front line in front of hundreds of people every week is a miracle in itself. Now, its normal. Aiden has always been the younger brother, and we know how the younger brother gets left out. For him, its a chance to do something, be a part of something, with two of his biggest influences- his brothers. I wonder if he even realizes the gift that is. We do. And after each performance, after they've left it all on the field, they find me. They look at my face, and I theirs, and I nod and smile. They know how proud I am of them. Its funny, each one of them does that, looks for my face. Maybe to see my reaction, maybe to seek my approval, or maybe just to have that moment. JB usually says something like "Hey Baldy" and pats me on the back. Now his friends do it too. It's normal.
When the crowds left tonight, and the boys changed, the show cleaned up, we were walking back to my truck. The boys were picking on each other, in that joking brotherly way. They were laughing. I was smiling, and I was happy. It was normal. As we continued walking back to my truck, a cars started coming down the road, and JB, with hands full, grabbed Emma's hand, and put himself on the outside, and Nathan and Aiden followed. They protected her. Not against danger, but against the potential of danger. They did this before I even had a chance. They are all such good brothers. That's hen it struck me- they are good young men too. We got to the truck, and Emma got hurt. JB got right down to her level, comforted her, hugged her, and she snuggled in his arms. (I had to turn away cause the tears came again) He's gonna be a good dad. Reminds me so much of my father. So much of me. I realized tonight he's gonna be ok.
So I just told you about a few small moments today, that probably mean nothing to others, but to me? They mean the world. We'll look back on this summer, and someday, understand how it all changed us, and yet, normal has found us again. Its a new normal, with some of the familiar comforts of the old normal. But, still we are changed.
For those of you who prayed for us, for my son, for my family, thank you. Your prayers, encouragement, support, and kindness got us through. For those of you who had to assign blame, pick sides and criticize, I am sorry that was your first reaction, but now that everything is said and done, we're fine. God has gotten us through. I'm going to sleep tonight in a full house, where a whole family lives. Tomorrow, we'll clean up the house, make some chili, and just hang out around the house. Like normal. Still, when I close my eyes and drift to sleep, I will be happy and content, with joy and peace in my heart, that things are back to normal. Drifting off to sleep, hearing my heart beat, I'll dream of my father again, and in my dream I will tell him how awesome his grandkids are, and he will say I know, I see it. And the beat goes on.....