“What is Thunder, Mama?”
“The clouds are having a war.”
“Because. They just are. Listen.”
“I am listening. But why Mama?”
He stares out of the window above my bed. His shoeless feet are pressing into the foam of my mattress, his nose is squished up against the glass as the rain rattles the metal awning above and out. The storm is raging, tornado sirens are blaring and true to Benjamin form he wants to be in the thick of it all.
“Are the clouds named Jake and Elroy? Are they the Blues Brothers Mama?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“But what are their names?”
A burst of lightning fills my room, I can see his face for a second and then everything falls into darkness again. I’ve turned off the lights, something I do every time there is a massive storm. I’ve always loved storms and can’t imagine experiencing one like this with the lights on.
“I saw the thunder. I saw it Mommy! I saw it!!!”
“That was lightning.”
“What is light-ing-ing?”
“Lightening is…” a clap of thunder interrupts. The storm is too fast for my Science 101 lesson to keep up.
“Okay, that was thunder. Did you hear it?”
“You hear thunder and you see lightening. Now get back up there and watch… and listen.” I touch his ears so he understands.
“Listen” is a word John Bear and I have been repeating over and over again lately and it occurs to me now that he may not truly understand what his ears even do, let alone what the act of silently listening entails, the marvels it can bring – even for us adults.
He climbs back up and takes position.
As he is squealing in delight, giggling and then jumping in and out of cuddles I am quickly splashed with a handful of dotted feelings that I have been preserving somewhere inside of 20+ years. I feel, like it was yesterday, the incredible fear and joy of discovering and understanding my first thunderstorm. And then, just like that, they are lost again.
I wonder if I hold him tight enough, if I can feel them again. But instead I feel a giant boy in my arms who is growing so quickly I can’t even fathom the space he’ll be taking up in just six-months, let alone in four more years. And what will he remember? What feelings will he take with him?
I hold him tight and hope he takes, at the very least, this feeling – the feeling of being loved so incredibly much. I also hope he forgives me for every mistake I have made or have yet to make. I am only human. And as for the clouds… I have absolutely no idea what they are fighting about but I’d imagine it has something to do with all of us growing up underneath them.