He slipped under the covers on the empty side of the bed, and silence fell around us again. The silence let me know which kid it was, as one comes with quite a bit more verbiage than the other. We laid silent for quite some time, enjoying the peace before another day of busy life for both parents and children.
In the quiet space between our breathing, the sun started to rise.
The sky changed from a light orange to one streaked with bright pinks, purples and dark spots of blue. The change started slow and then exploded in color all at once. We watched through the open curtains in the bedroom, the walls changing color as the light poured into the room.
Eventually, I broke our silence.
“Wow, that’s a really pretty sunrise.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like that,” he replied quietly, his arms resting behind his head.
I smiled, wondering how many sunrises he’s actually seen. Or rather, how many he’s seen with intent. Not those infant sunrises, rocking in the rocking chair while nursing him, both of our eyes shut but aware of the sun lighting the room around us. I know he’s witnessed a number of sunrises as we wound our way through the Appalachian mountains on our way to the beach each summer. We leave under the cloak of darkness, shuffling them out to the car mostly asleep; they wake as the sun starts to peek above the mountain tops, ready to eat breakfast and begin talking—non-stop—for seven more hours. I don’t think we’ve rested our heads on pillows next to one another and watched as the sun turned the sky into a tapestry unlike anything we’ve ever seen or will again; even tomorrow’s sunrise will be different if he slips into bed and waits with me.
I forced myself up and out of bed to snap a picture, and then snuggled back under the cool sheets next to him. I looked at the curve of his profile, his eyes still watching the sky. I studied the shape of his nose, his chin. I wondered how much of that nose shape will stay the same, how much will change as he gets older, day by day.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked him the question I ask both boys regularly. I like to hear their answers, to see what changes, what remains the same.
He remained quiet for quite some time before defaulting to, “A firefighter. Is that okay?”
“Of course it’s okay. You can be anything you want to be.” Then I threw in a different question. “What should I be when I grow up?”
He laughed. “You’re already a grown up!”
“Oh, right. What am I?”
He thought really hard for a moment. “Uh, a blogger?”
Maybe one day when he reads back over these many words, these many pages of family memories, of dreams and goals, of who his mother was and is and might be someday, he’ll remember the bright pink sunrise we watched together in silence. No matter what he does as a job in the future, he’ll always be the boy whose face I memorized one beautiful Tuesday morning.