I am about six years old, and just finished my bath. My mother dries me off and tells me to get into my pajamas and wait for her while she finishes bathing my three year old brother.
She will braid my hair, like she has my older sisters who have already had their bath, but unlike them, I will have to go to bed right after my hair is braided and my teeth are brushed.
Those were the best times with my mother. Her love was fully present, and in those few moments her attention was all mine.
I stand looking at the rectangle of sky out of the window in the steamy bathroom, a soft breeze cooling my face as it carries in the evening songbirds’ chirping.
The open kitchen window is full of the dimming sky as I write this, the night birds singing me back to six years old – feeling my mother’s touch and love – the current ache of missing her lessened by this time travel.
Are the birds singing to their broods, hushing them to sleep? Are they, too, happy in their mother’s attention?
My oldest brother rushes into the bathroom: “Mom, look!”
He has a lightning bug in a jar. It’s buzzing against the glass, looking for a way out.
“That’s a special bug. You can look at it for a while, but I want you to let it go outside before bed.”
“Oh, alright,” my brother groans, ruing his decision to show her his prize.
My next oldest brother comes in with a lightning bug he smeared on his arm just as it had lit up. His experiment a proud success.
She tells him to go wash it off as my little brother and I start to cry at his seeming cruelty.
“It’s just a bug,” he sneers, and then they’re off, clomping back downstairs.
“You boys stay in now – and clean up,” my mother calls after them.
The darkening sky has quieted the birds, the light in my kitchen seeming brighter now.
I imagine a mother bird having fed her brood, and cleaned their feathers before bed – their crowded nest all cozy and warm.
A few late birds call out, and then all is quiet again.
The earth is turning from the sun for another night.
The fireflies are lighting up in the dimness, and perhaps my mother is right here, enjoying this moment with me.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current