walking and running

We all wake up in the morning and roll out of bed. Sometimes we’re still fuzzy, groggy, perhaps even lightheaded standing up too fast. Still we are able to shake off the cobwebs, take one step in front of the other and make our way across the nubby carpet onto wide pine planks to our babe’s crib.

Cribside, we unwittingly stand with enough balance and strength to lift our child—who is already standing himself, patiently waiting for mama—over the high railings and give him good morning kisses, his little arms wrapping tightly around our necks. We shut our eyes and drink in the kind of moment that we wish could last forever but never does.

We step easily and assuredly, heel to toe, to the changing table and carefully place our child on his back, our feet slightly apart beneath us, steady. He grabs his toes and babbles as we put him into a clean dry diaper that feels nice on his velvety skin.

Balancing him on our hip we take the stairs one by one and count them off for him until the landing, and then there are three more ... one, two, three!

We set our boy down and—in my mind now, a departure from reality—I see him skitter off, almost running to jump into his father’s arms, wrapping his legs around daddy’s waist like a monkey. He feels practically weightless supporting his own mass, which is beginning to increase by leaps and bounds.

In my imagination my sweet son is excited by the chirps of chickadees and the squawks of large, oily, black crows, especially the baby ones, whose voices squeak awkwardly like prepubescent boys. The sun is beaming through leaves spinning half circles on short waxy stems—then back again—like some midway carnival ride. He spies a red cardinal with a neon beak soaring effortlessly as if on a wire. My fantasy continues as he wriggles his way out of daddy’s arms, runs to the door and opens it. Knees high, he prances giddily, up on his toes. Once outside he skips his way to the flowerbeds like a delicate white butterfly riding on an invisible roller coaster, his arms stretched above him, waving fingers spread on flat palms against the breeze.

But then I snap out of my reckless dream when I hear the locks on the high chair tray engage and the buckle of the black nylon belt, which goes between my son's legs and around his lap, click into place. My boy cannot walk by himself, not without risking a dangerous fall, perhaps because of the seizures, the drugs, or both. But I can ... we can. What amazing autonomy we enjoy without so much as a second thought when we wake each morning and roll out of bed.

photo by Michael Kolster

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