She approaches. The trees change their attire in deference, casting small sacrifices underfoot.
If I could freeze a moment in time, it would not be this moment. At this moment, Goose is hunched over a bowl of oatmeal, staring at his phone, Maverick is still asleep, and Mr. A is bustling around in the small space of time between one trip and the next.
If I could freeze a moment in time, it would be lying on the blanket in the back yard with Smartypants and Sunshine, reading books while the dogs snoozed next to us. We would turn over and gaze at the mass of leaves on the giant backyard maple, leaves that provide a summer blanket of cool and protection from the intense sun. The house was newer, with a wonderful skylight that provided much needed sunlight in the winter, but the effect in summer was oven-like. Still, that heat drove us outside, to fresh air and family time.
I would not freeze yesterday. Maverick came to eat a quick dinner after soccer practice with his Beats headphones covering both ears. Goose spent what time he wasn’t doing homework for his new college classes in his room on his computer. Mr. A came home from one trip and immediately got on the phone, while I, his taxi driver, drove in silence.
If I could freeze a moment in time, it would be tickle fights with Goose and Maverick. I would be the tickle monster and have Goose firmly in my grasp, to great gushes of giggles, when I would be attacked by little Maverick, aka Scrappy Doo at the time, coming to save his brother. The tickle monster would switch out one for the other, grabbing Maverick, to loads of laughter, and Goose would run and stand in the doorway, safe, unwilling to risk himself for his younger sibling. Ah, such is the nature of birth order.
I would not freeze last week. I asked the boys to give me 20 minutes of cell phone free time, just 20 minutes. We’ll put our technology away. We’ll talk. With the protests that ensued, you would think I had asked them to give up a kidney (which I think they would be much more willing to part with). I insisted, and they put them away, but they watched the clock. To their credit, they did make an effort to communicate, but as soon as that 20 minutes was up, they scrambled for the phones. My plan was to try again, to extend the time until we were technology free for about 2 hours of the day, but that genie is fat, and squeezing him back into that bottle is going to take some effort.
If I could freeze a moment in time, it would be pulling on rubber boots and walking through the muddy field behind our house with the dogs, Oreo the cat following us. Splashing through puddles, walking and talking, though I couldn’t tell you today what the topic of conversation might have been. Maybe school drama. Maybe the days the teacher made them practice walking in a line because some student (you know who you are) wouldn’t behave. Group punishment is not fair to kids like mine, kids who listen attentively, bright kids who want to be in school and want to learn.
Later I would walk the same field with Goose and Maverick, though now drained of its wonderful, stinky puddles. Goose found a frog one day and carried the poor thing the entire length of the walk. He showed it to me when we neared the house. He must have held too tight somewhere along the way, poor thing.
I would not freeze my 50th birthday, a day we were traveling with the robotics group. The boys woke up and came to my hotel room to wish me a happy birthday, and I didn’t see them again all day. We sat in the stands together, me below with the parents and Mr. A, and them above with their friends. We ate at the same restaurant, me at the end with the parents and Mr. A, and them at another table with their friends. It’s okay, I thought. We’ll celebrate tomorrow, I thought. Tomorrow came, and we suggested a trip to Seattle. We’re tired, they said. I have laundry, Goose protested. So we just went home. It’s no fun celebrating with people who want to be somewhere else.
(Though I think it’s not so much that Goose didn’t want to celebrate as that he hates big cities, thinking the crime statistics will sidle up to him whispering, “You’re next.”)
If I could freeze a moment in time, it would be one of our walks down the beach, probably the one where a young Maverick, walking backwards, fell into one of the salt-water puddles created in the sand. It was fairly deep, and he was drenched. He wasn’t amused, though the rest of us were, and he carried his anger back to camp. Hopefully he can look back on it and laugh now. It’s these little harmless mistakes that give life spice.
I might freeze the time Mr. A picked up a kelp crab. If you’ve never seen a kelp crab, they are nothing like the oval, awkward Dungeness you are used to seeing in the store. Kelp crabs are small bodied, with these long, long legs. So long, in fact, that the trick of picking a crab up with your thumb and forefinger by the back, a trick that works perfectly fine for Dungeness, doesn’t work for them, as Mr. A found out. The crab easily reached around and grabbed hold of his hand. He flailed a bit and dropped the crab, but then to my astonishment he picked it up again the same way…with the same result. What was he expecting?
So many days, so many wonderful memories. Sometimes I feel that they are being overlaid, like too many layers in Photoshop, with other, newer realities, causing distortion. I have to fight to remember the good times, the love, and the laughter.
If I could freeze a moment in time, I would go back and search the days prior to 2004.
I would not freeze the day I got the call one week after my 40th birthday that my mammogram looked suspicious, and could I please come in for a biopsy.
I would not freeze the day I got the call that yes, it was cancer.
That’s the day my moments in time took on a whole new meaning.