My kids told me a story tonight at dinner. Osiah began to speak of sharks. "There were so, so many. They were overflowing."
"Yeah, and then everybody wanted to kill all the sharks," said scared-of-things-with-big-teeth girl.
"YEAH, and then a dolphin came. And there was a glass race car it went FWOOSH."
Back and forth like this for many, many minutes, each one rapt while waiting their turn, eyes wide, listening closely.
"And then the ocean started getting higher and higher because everyone was crying," said girl.
And that's when I lost my breath.
Isla slipped and fell tonight. I was going in for a tickle, and she squealed and turned to run, forgetting that her feet wore tights. Head cracked kitchen island in the way where you know to look for damage. When none seemed apparent, I was skeptical and went to get the pack from the freezer. When I turned, the welt was already a half-inch off her head, a visible line down the center where she'd hit the drawer handle. I tended, tears were dried. She's now sleeping, and I'm checking her compulsively.
As I lay with Osiah on the bottom bunk, willing him to sleep so I could again make sure she was breathing, I, of course, began to think about her dying. I ran through some of the potential scenarios, about how our night had been going up until her slip. About a 911 call, about an empty bunk bed.
(Pause to check on sleeping girl...)
As my mind began to loop, there was a thought - I can't remember now what it was - but there was a thought that made my body go rigid, that made me inhale sharply.
And then, the next thought was this: no matter what you do, she is going to die.
This had never occurred to me before. The hope is always, always, that the parents, having lived fulfilling and generous lives, live healthfully into old age and then die gracefully.
My thought train has always ended there - with the parental victory of expiring before my children. I've never once, not until tonight, thought about what happens after that. About how, if we were to be blessed by the goodness of such a scenario, they'd keep going and grow old, too.
About how their paths are as inevitable as mine.
About how the fierceness of my will and my boundless desire to protect them will, in the end, bear no fruit.
"And then the ocean started getting higher and higher because everyone was crying."
These tears, tonight's tears, are swimming and swirling together into a big ol' pool of love.
Love, higher and higher.