A long time ago, when we first moved into our house, Younger was five years old, not in kindergarten yet. So, I would take Elder to the end of our drive and wave him onto the bus then I would return to finish preparing myself and Younger for our day.
But then one morning, having given up on my hair, I bounced down the stairs only to halt abruptly on the landing at the sight and sound of my little blonde boy huddled on the bottom step, his narrow shoulders heaving on sobs.
“What’s wrong?” I cried, rushing down the remaining stairs to his side. “What happened?”
“Mom?” He looked at me with eyes swimming in tears. “I thought you left me.”
And he broke my heart.
For every little boy whose Mom has actually left him.
And I gathered him into my arms until he felt safe again.
I never wrote that story. Because some things you don’t really want to remember.
But yesterday, Younger and I stopped by the house on our way from his school to his grandparents, and while I was upstairs, I heard, “Mom?”
In a familiar questioning voice.
A little deeper. Or a lot deeper.
But the same voice.
And even though he is sixteen, I was immediately on the stairs, saying, “I’m here.”
Because some things you don’t really want to remember.
But you never get to forget.