Blessed with a 60 degree day in January, we headed outside this afternoon to run off energy, play and breathe. I have found that breathing is intensely good for the soul, even more so when it’s supposedly the middle of winter and you don’t need to wear a jacket outside.
A gentle breeze blew the sound of the clock tower on our local courthouse toward us as it chimed that another hour of our lives passed us by. I heard it — but didn’t at the same time. It is a sound I take for granted, that sometimes we hear the bells and sometimes we don’t. Like much of life — sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t. I continued reading, lost in the moment of happy boys and warm breezes and moments passing.
“What was that?” BigBrother poked my leg to get my attention.
I looked at him, crouched in front of toys that have been dubbed “deck” toys — left outside during the non-stop rain of this odd winter, dirty and old. I thought of Woody and Buzz and wondered if the boys would notice if the old castle made its way to the city dump. “What, Buddy?”
“That noise. What was that noise?” He looked off in the direction of down town, the breeze tousling the front of his too long hair. I made a mental note to nag my husband to cut the boys’ hair.
“Oh, that’s just the courthouse bells.”
He kept looking in the direction of the courthouse and I watched the wheels in his head turn. I saw him visualize the drive to our house; turn left, turn right, turn left, go straight, some stop lights, turn right, up a hill, down a hill, home. That’s quite a ways to a six-year-old, I suppose. It’s less than a mile really.
“But how can we hear them? We don’t live next to the courthouse. It’s all the way over there, on all those streets away.” He looked at me then, with the questions in his eyes that he always has, wanting to know more about the way the world works. He looked to me like I have all the answers, like I am the All Knowing of All Knowings and, for a moment, I wondered how many times I will truly fail him by my lack of knowledge.
“Sound carries, Buddy.”
He looked back toward the courthouse, through the trees, trying to see it with his eyes and not just his mind. The wheels in his head kept turning. I watched him, wondering what was going on that amazing brain of his, knowing it was something so very him-like. He lifted his face toward the sky a bit, pursed his lips…
Did you hear it?
Did you hear him test out what his mother told him to be true?
Did you hear him make sense of the world in his own way?
Did you hear it when I realized that even though I can tell him things that I know to be true, he’ll always have to find out for himself if what I have said was true? Did you hear my sigh when I realized that I am raising a male version of myself; a sigh filled with pride and hope… and fear?
Did you hear my mother, somewhere miles away, whisper, “I told you so,” as a smile wiped across her face?
I did. I heard it all.
Sound carries. I’ve tested it myself.