All Tucked in Their Beds

I just made my middle-of-the-night rounds, checking to see that the covers were pulled up and heads were straight on pillows and favorite blankies were within arm's reach, and now I can't pull up my own covers and get back to sleep.

There is a groundswell of excitement in our home this weekend, and I've been trying to put words to what we are all feeling as summer breaks upon us.  I suppose it's the sense that Time itself is rolling out, a deep carpet of limitless ocean.  

We find ourselves on the brink of relentless heat and careless joys and fewer responsibilities, and it feels grand.  It most certainly seems like a never-ending reserve, this time, and surely it might allow for some fiddling around in its great expansive space that stretches to the very horizon, one that makes us feel small and enveloped and like we will never reach the end of it.

This feeling I relish even though I know it is the Great Deceiver, the very reason we turn to television and iPads and pretty magazines and yesterday's paper rather than towards each other.

But for tonight I rest content knowing where the hearts I love are sleeping.  I am certain they had a square meal for dinner and their teeth were brushed and they each were hugged before drifting to sleep with the dim nightlight casting peaceful shadows.

For tonight, their breaths rise and fall within the confines of my home, in a comfortable place where the alarm is armed and the air conditioning hums.

In this quiet dark, their parents lie beside each other on familiar pillows with the fan always on, and I know even though the trough of my bed curves deep that if I sleep right there, just so, they can find me in the dark.

We are safe.

But in a certain number of tomorrows, we will be spread out by obligations and the secure space of this home will be breached by impending adulthood and responsibilities and expectations that will suck them right away out of their cozy beds and into harsh reality, where sheets aren't pulled to their chins in the midnight silence and where favorite foods become an issue of what's in the monthly budget rather than a delicious and familiar something waiting for them on a tray when they expectantly open up the big refrigerator door.

I pondered this swelling sensation of time as we spent several hours at the local retirement community today.  I watched the walkers roll to and fro, filling the elevators and lining the halls with their own slow-wheeled traffic.  I saw many silver-haired strangers with bowed backs that have been so shaped by time that they strained to lift their chins at the thunder of feet as my children curved around their lane and ran ahead in their Sunday best, leaving a flood of memories in their wake.

"All my babies are in their sixties," one spry fellow in a beret confided to me as my children stormed past.  "Well done," I replied back, unsure of what else to say as I stared at his sloping black hat and he watched my kids turn the far corner and move out of sight.  "I'll be saying that before you know it," I told him.

And I will.

"All we have to decide 
is what to do 
with the time that is given us.”

Gandalf, Fellowship of the Rings

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