His legs slow in the same way mine quicken. Our shadows are an elongated, tilted, fuzzy version of the Us that we’ve grown so very accustomed to in the decade we’ve shared.
The sun glints in slices against pebbled earth. He doesn’t notice.
The crowd, the mountains, the big orange mud slide that looms to the left are what hold his gaze.
My heart beats and tightens and quickens. But with his eyes hidden behind sunglasses, I’m unsure how he feels. This unanswered question is, in this case, the more important one.
Jason ran his first 5k on Saturday. It was a golden day encased in beating sunshine and mediocre beer and the kind of bands that this mama of three rarely listens to anymore.
It was perfect.
When he finished – a bit worn and scuffed and scraped after that big orange mud slide and an electric fence (!) and zombie chases – because, “A regular 5k might be kind of boring” – he was so very proud.
This I could see, in his stance and his smile and his immediate, “Next year, for sures.” But really, I felt it.
Deep inside my core in the space that has melded between us, threaded by marriage and children and jobs and moves and free flowing tears and belly laughs, I felt his pride as if it was my own.
Because when we stretch as far as we can, our happy Glows for others to see and feel and sometimes, even touch, doesn’t it?
I’m swimming with Brody.
The water glistens warm against both of our skin, his vanilla startling against my coffee.
His arms wrap around my neck. And really, that’s a generous way of putting it. “Clench” is more like it.
“I can’t, mommy!” He says. His fear chiseling my heart.
I pry his fingers “loose” one by one. They’re small, fragile even, but his grip is tight, strong, fierce. I feel the trail of red marks he’s left behind. They’re embedded rake-like beneath those chisels.
We’re tangled an arm’s length away from the edge. ”You can do it, buddy.” I murmur in his ear. “I know you can.”
His grip tightens again. This time he uses his fingers and arms and legs and face and even the most delicious of bellies. “We’re so close – look!” I add, lazily motioning with my arm. My fingertips graze the side. He doesn’t notice.
This stretch feels too far and too big and too much right now.
I note my pink tipped toes edged in the water’s clear turquoise and waver between being his safe place and his push.
I want to be both.
They clink their red Solos towards the sun. Amber beer sloshes at the sides. They could care less.
We settle on the browned grass together.
They are a mess of scrapes and mud and bare feet. But their smiles. Oh my, I’d take a few more of those to tuck away for a darker day.
“You’ll probably want to do this next year!” Jason’s friend says to me.
And we laugh. It’s the good kind of laugh – warm and rich and tired and stranded in the way that Jason’s and my shared space is, just looser and with less pieces to hold it together.
This stretch, isn’t mine. But this feeling, so is.
There’s a space between too much and just right that feels uncomfortable, scary even.
And that’s where I want to be, what I want to show to my children, and whisper to them at just the right time. This space? Is golden. Go for it.
(Maybe without zombies, though!)