I feel in so many ways like I’ve become an aunt to two boys that came so unexpectedly into my life. But definitely the cool aunt, that takes them for ice cream with all the windows open and the music turned up.
That shows up at the cottage and pedals the paddle boat out into the middle of the lake with them, taking turns jumping off the side into the freezing water below. Curling up on the couch watching bad Adam Sandler movies and sucking on sour candy that they cleverly keep in the fridge.
Spending hours playing Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble and Crazy 8s and Texas Hold’em, teaching them how to check raise and then losing all my chips.
Late last night, we went down to the water to look at the night sky. The sky was so bright, and the lake so flat, that a million stars were reflected onto the water below and became a million more. We laid on the flat rocks at the edge of the water, side by side. We looked for constellations and the Milky Way; I hazarded a guess at the Big Dipper and they agreed that I must be right.
They are so incredibly open to learning new things.
“What would you wish for right now if we were to see a shooting star?” I asked.
The eldest was quiet, he keeps a lot of his thoughts to himself, but the youngest answered. He wished for life, love, happiness, and then made one more. Actually, two.
He wished for his dad to never have gotten sick; and for them to find a cure.
I believe in the universe, in how it conspires and how it delivers and how it can suddenly come to life, at just the right moment.
Across the lake, a loon called. Behind us, in the water, there was a splash, as a fish jumped from the surface of the still lake. And above us, a shooting star crossed the night sky.
Me and the eldest shouted, our voices loud against the back drop of the night. “Did you see that?” I asked the youngest.
He had not – he was trying to see the fish jumping in the lake; the disappointment in his voice was clear.
I did my best to reassure him, reminding him that he had made his wishes and then the shooting star had appeared. I told him I very much believed his wishes could come true.
Such simple and pure wishes – love, happiness and life.
We started to walk back up to the cottage and I was quiet, trying to absorb as much as I could from all that was around me.
And then he spoke, the youngest, and asked if I thought there was any chance when we woke up in the morning that his dad would no longer be sick.
Because he had wished it.
They are – both of them so curious and so willing to learn. I’ve already said that, but it’s so very true. And being so much older than them both, I’ve always just assumed that I will be the one teaching them new things, at least for a while still.
But in that moment, that assumption dissolved, kind of like that star that shot across the night sky just moments before – because all of a sudden – I had a startling new perspective.
Love, happiness and life. All things to be grateful for and never to be taken for granted.
I stopped and looked up at the night sky. At the million of stars, shining so brightly above us. The universe, doing it’s thing. I looked at the boys beside me, so young but so wise.
“He won’t be better in the morning,” I said, and my voice probably broke a little. Actually, it probably broke a lot. “But if they do find a cure – and you wished for one – think about other families that won’t go through what yours has.”
He was quiet – they both were – listening, and thinking. My answer seemed like it was enough.
We went indoors, and the screen door fell gently behind us. And I wished, with one last look at the night behind us, that all their wishes would come true.