Bright yellow rain jacket and dark brown cords on bright yellow swing. I push. H swings. Yellow on blue. Yellow and brown on brown. Yellow on blue. Yellow and brown on brown. Push. Swing. Yellow on blue. Yellow and brown on brown. Like a metronome. My breathing matches the rhythm. For a moment, this is all there is and all there needs to be. Yellow on blue. Yellow and brown on brown. Yellow on blue. Yellow and brown on brown.
“Wrap H up,” he requests as we walk home from the grocery store. The lengthening winter nights have crested with the Winter Solstice, but it is still middle-of-the-night dark at 5:30pm. I pull H into my ams and wrap the edges of my down coat around his body. Street lights send yellow pools of light down on us, illuminating our path at intervals large enough that they do not drown out the dark.
“H is cozy,” he tells me. He pushes his arm down into my sweater.
“Hi, H,” I say.
“Hi, milk. And hi, mama,” H replies.
“I have to tell you something,” I whisper to him.
“I love you,” he whispers back.
“Yes, I love you,” I say. I can feel a hum of joy filling my body, and I close my eyes to make an etching in my heart of this moment.
I want to keep it as a balm for the quiet sadness has settled in my soul these past days. It is a sadness for which I have plenty of explanations, but instead of analyzing it or thinking the feeling away, I have invited it to sit quietly with me, carrying it as gently as I carry H. I am hoping that this sadness will reveal its lesson in time or simply ebb into the vastness of the universe when we are both ready to part. Until then, we travel together, the sadness, H, and me. Perhaps the extra companion is what makes this ordinary moment glow especially warm. The weight of a growing toddler in my arms, the warmth of his small body pressed against mine, the playfulness with which he approaches the world, the dearness of his voice, the whispered I love yous, these tiny sparks shine especially bright in comparison to the darkness of the path I have been walking.
I notice the joy jostling with the sadness to make room for itself. I notice both feelings settling in my body. I notice that that both can exist simultaneously, that there is room enough. Perhaps this is one of the lessons the sadness is here to bring. That the heavy feelings will not consume me, that it is possible to feel all things at once, that remaining alive and open to the present moment, even though it can bring enormous pain, means experiencing more joy than I ever knew possible.
The nights are shortening and the heavy darkness of winter will soon give way to a light that will stretch itself into the the nooks and crannies of a beautiful city. Maybe it will be that way, too, with my soul.