David Bowie died a year ago this month. Glenn Frey died this month two years ago. We are all getting older, and as Stevie sang, I’m getting older, too. I’ll be 49 in just a couple of weeks. It seems impossible.
My relationship with the kid is evolving and changing as he grows. He’s more distant and also more physical; wants to wrestle, intensely dance, throw snowballs, chase me up and down the stairs when we do laundry. But he finds his own space now when we come home from school without me telling him to. He finds Matchbox cars to play with, turning them around and around and over humps he makes in the yoga mat that’s eternally on the floor in case I have to stretch. It’s been 6 months since I’ve had a B-12 shot and my deficiency manifests in muscle cramps when I least expect it. Today, after an ambitious, 4-mile morning run, I found my intercostals cramping when I tried to put clean socks on after a shower, and had to stretch way back and wait until they released. My right foot cramped repeatedly while driving for errands, which is not a good way to be. I finally bought some liquid B12 at the drugstore and hit it in the parking lot like an addict. My face has been flushed ever since. Which probably means it’s working.
My GI surgery causes the deficiency, because of how much I have to go to the bathroom. No amount or type of food or drink can make up for it. My food doesn’t really stay with me for very long, and I don’t get the nutrients out of it, just the fat and calories. This is why I’m hungrier than normal people, and why I steadily gain weight each year. It’s also why I ran this morning, and every other day I run and work out and try to deal the hand I have been dealt. Some days are easier than others. Today, it wasn’t the arthritis or my sometimes irritated bum that kept me from more miles, it was my shoes, which don’t fit right and are causing blisters and numb spots. New Balance has graciously agreed to take them back even after the return period has ended, but my old pair of Brooks had different problems, and I am loathe to go back to them. Everything is a problem as you age. But nevertheless, she persisted.
The kid and I have few moments of quiet tenderness any longer. With his propensity towards winter nosebleeds because of how dry it is, I’ve urged him to stay in his own bed all night, not wanting my own resembling a horror film in the middle of the night. He only had one nosebleed this past week. It’s always very late at night and he’s not really awake and is disoriented and very, very crabby. He wants to go right back to bed immediately but we have to get the bleeding stopped first, and he’s impatient and doesn’t like me wiping all of him down with a warm cloth to get all the blood off, doesn’t like sitting on the lid and pinching one nostril shut, waiting for it all to stop. He whines and is angry and I try to be soothing but firm. I’m sorry he got my defective nose. He’ll grow out of it eventually. I hope that’s all he got from me. I hope it every day.
He’s insisted on sleeping with his door open lately. I shut it, and at some point in the night he opens it. I like for him to sleep with it closed, because of fire, but also because even as hard of hearing as I am, even with the fan on or other white noise, I can hear the *snick* of his door opening, and know that something is wrong and he needs me, whatever it is. The instinct, which was given to me by childbirth, has never abated, even though he is 8 now. But with his door open, I don’t hear him rise, and then all of a sudden he is there in the night next to my bed. “mom?” he says, in this small, quiet voice. “What?” I say, prepared for anything.
More often than not, what he says is, “I’m scared. Can I sleep with you?” He is not scared. There’s nothing to BE scared of, he is not a scared type of child, he is just giving a reason to come in and snuggle, and, knowing how few of those days are left, I say ok.
He gets in and puts one tiny, bony arm on top of me and goes right back to sleep. I lay there and think about whether or not he took his vitamins, and feel bad I forgot to make him do his push-ups, or write down his reading in the log for school. I feel like I wish he would lie there forever with his little arm on mine, wanting to be next to me, and knowing how goddamned soon the day is coming where he will never, ever get in bed with me again, will never hold my hand in his while he’s sleeping, will never wake up briefly in the night and say, “Mom? I love you,” and then turn over and go back to sleep. Jesus Christ, those days tick away so fast. It makes me panicky to think about it sometimes.
We argue about so much, too. I ride him hard, because I want him to be a good man. This past week, he packed his own breakfast and lunch for the first time. He got his own snack one night, and did all the laundry with me just supervising in case he needed help. He complained the whole time he did these things, but he did them. Because that is my job, to teach him not to need me.
This morning, the stray showed up again. We have had a couple of days of January thaw, and though I am reluctant to give the kitty anything, lest I inhibit his interest and ability in finding his own food, the kid was insistent, so I found something in the fridge and we gave it to him. We’ve named him Gandalf, because he is gray and white, even though my son doesn’t yet know who Gandalf is.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”