Though the dangers of assuming are many, there is one assumption that has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember: that when I need the words for a particular occasion or situation they will be there. I make this assumption as a writer, as a teacher, as a friend, and–so far–as a parent. And up until 10:40 AM today I have been largely confident and seldom disappointed.
Words are what I do, what I revel in, what I love, admire, and care for . . . I treat them well and expect them to do the same for me.
But as I drove home today from Providence, looking at August in the backseat, I didn’t have any words. Just time and space as I stared in the rearview mirror at his beautiful, trusting face.
This morning August was supposed to visit with his birthmother, but she did not come. We waited for her for 40 minutes, but she did not come. And as I write this and remain concerned about her and hope that she is okay, I can only think about August. Today he is two, and his birthmother’s not being there for him will not have the impact it will all too soon. And I am left wondering what I will say to him should a similar situation transpire next year, the year after, in a decade.
It’s impossible to script and even less so to predict. There are too many variables.
Today he smiled on the way home, the late-morning September sun streaming across his cheeks, his small body gently swaying in his carseat to the beat of the songs on the radio. He named everything he saw with his signature exclamation point: “Clouds!” “Trucks!” “Trees!” He knew only that he and I had spent the morning together and that he was content. He didn’t know we were waiting for someone. He didn’t know it was his birthmother. And he didn’t know that she did not come.
This may never happen again. But if it does, I am trusting that the right words will come. August deserves nothing less.