Happy (belated) Birthday to Saint James

santiandmomIn the spirit of catching up one bite at a time, I just want to go back a couple weeks and wish my boy a happy 13th birthday. The birthday post is kind of a state of the union address, is it not?

Someday I might peruse back and read that the summer Saint James became a teenager, he would still get excited every time he saw the great blue heron in the pond near his school. I’d be happy to remember that he was, as ever, still into creatures and critters of every kind, spending time outdoors either kicking a ball or neck craned towards the ground, searching for something alive.

I would remember that he was crazy for soccer and approached every team he played on with an open heart and a willingness to give absolutely everything to his coach, his boys and the game. I might like to read that he felt the big wins and losses with equal intensity, and that he fought back tears like a champ. But I saw them.

I might chuckle at our obsession with the suspenseful, slightly inappropriate, tween show, Pretty Little Liars, and the sneaky, winking face he use to make to tantalize me to watch with him. Only dipping in for every 3rd to 4th episode, I got a detailed play-by-play of what I missed – more words that I normally heard out of Saint James, he had an earnest interest in keeping me caught up. It was our thing – and he laughed at me when I screamed. That show is some scary shit.

When I read back, I’ll know that as of age 13, his hand was still smaller than mine when we pressed them together. We both think the tips of his fingers will reach mine by Christmas. We’ll see.

I might be reminded that a couple days after his birthday, on my birthday, we were¬†a tumble of bodies and blankets at Music and Movies at the bandshell when my people started agitating to put our “plan” into effect. And by “our plan” I mean “their plan.” They had decided August 23rd, my birthday, was when we would take a dark night swim. The heat wave had given way to a cool breeze and fatigue and gravity would have made it all too easy to try to talk them out of it. But since it’s generally better to choose YES, we went.

The lake was quiet and still and there was a huge, waning harvest moon hanging in the sky. Everyone stayed within the buoys except for Saint James and me. We ventured out together, as we do, silent except for the occasional look at the city! look at the moon! We swam and swam, easy strokes and pounding hearts, the water and the night sky the same impossible black, thrilling at the tiny lights on shore and the unthinkable depths below.

And then I heard it. Otters, mom? Otters. Saint James’ favorite animal for many years, otters swim on their backs and hold hands. Ya, let’s do otters. We flipped onto our backs and held hands in the dark. He’s a thin boy, Saint James, and floating doesn’t come easy. Fill your lungs buddy.

We floated in silence for no more than a minute, but it was a minute that held wrapped tightly within it thirteen years of my heart’s longings and loves for this kid. It was a minute where I was fully able to feel my blessing in real time, as opposed to in retrospect. It was a minute that will stay with me always.

Thank you for otters, Saint James. And happy birthday, kid.

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