February 2, 2014
Good morning, my little star,
Each day as I make my way down the stairs to the main floor of our home (more times than not with dirty laundry in my arms) I am taken aback by the little blue ball that still sits way up high on the second story above the front door on the ledge under our front feature window. How did it get there? Well, I know that YOU know and I know that it wasn’t deliberately “placed” there as you can only reach that narrow ledge with an extendable ladder. It “ended up” there as a result of a bad shot in the mini sticks hockey shoot-out that occurred regularly (sometimes, daily) on the landing at the top of the staircase to the second story of our house. The place where the space opens up to a high ceiling, few walls, and a white wooden railing that was the only stopper to that little blue ball ending up downstairs on the floor… or, less likely, on the ledge above the door where it still sits. I remember the countless times I asked that you boys take the game downstairs where it didn’t matter where or how the ball was hit; downstairs where I could close the door to the basement so I didn’t have to hear the play by play of each shot and the thunk, thunk, thunk, of feet running up and down the stairs to retrieve that little blue ball.
What I hear in my head now when I see that ball and what I remember more than anything else is the sound of boys giggling with delight at the simple fun of hitting a little blue ball (a ball soft enough that it couldn’t possibly damage anything) with little hockey sticks. It’s quite remarkable how things that used to drive me crazy back then speak to me in such a different way now. How I long for those days where listening to you and your friends, or you and your brothers, just simply laugh because you were having fun. Its true that in between the laughter there were negotiations and arguments on fair play and sometimes stoppage of play because one of you would get hit with the stick and have to rub your hands together while jumping up and down to shake off the pain. I also remember the same repeated question I’d get when I asked you to move the game downstairs… “awe, Mom. Why? We’re not wrecking anything and its “funner” here. The shots are more fun when they can go further.” When I’d respond with a more serious and stern voice that what I needed (wanted) was silence, then and only then, was there compliance.
Seeing that little blue ball now conjures up a different feeling. And with it the yearning that if only I could have those days back, relive those precious moments where the sound of boys laughing and giggling was what really mattered, I’d take them back in a heartbeat. I have no desire to retrieve that little ball from where it now sits because it is a reminder of you and that makes me smile. It took a long time before my tears turned into smiles upon seeing that little ball but somehow even through the tears I knew that I didn’t want to take it down, that in time it would become another sacred memory of you. And now that’s what it is.
From time to time (ok, once) I had to maneuver the long, awkward (and scary) extendible ladder into the house and get my butt up there to dust that ledge. That was a while ago and I’ll need to do it again soon, as the dust seemingly multiplies faster in the places where you can’t reach easily. Once up there I put the little blue ball in the pocket of my sweatshirt while I “swiffered” the dust onto the floor below. Before I carefully placed the ball in the exact same spot where it landed on that mini sticks game day, I cupped both my hands around it and brought it to my face. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and planted a kiss on it as if it were your cheek. That place is now home to that little blue ball. And I’m pretty sure it always will be.
Love you, little blue (hah!). More than a bus on top of a tall, hard to reach ledge.
What a beautiful story. I will refrain from yelling at my girls to clean up their room. Hugs.
Hey Mark! When you can’t find your girls amongst all the stuff that may have found its place on their bedroom floor then you probably have to give them a “loving” yell. In my unimaginable grief and the empty part of my heart, I am touched that my letter to my sweet Will might shed a different perspective on what really matters and what is just the little stuff. Little reminders of how precious our children are to us is an intentional part of my writing. Thanks for taking the time to read my letter and to comment.
Beautiful and touching Joni! I hope that you and your family are well. What a wonderful gift you have in writing, and a beautiful tribute to your son! How is Finn?
Thanks Ina! So nice to see your name here and to read your kind words. Finn is great… the best brown dog in the land, if you ask me. He is medicine in my world. He just helps me find a reason to smile. Hope you are well?
Thank you for the much needed reminder to cherish the small moments that really do mean so much. We have a little orange ball instead of a little blue ball in our house. I think I will go a little easier on them when the mini sticks come out tomorrow. Love you J. *Hugs*
Oh Kaylie, I laughed when I read your comment. I can envision that little orange ball and know that it landed where it is with the same thoughts I had those years ago. Go easy, yes. And when you need a little peace and quiet head to the basement with a book and a glass of wine! Love you back, sweet mom! xo
What a beautiful story Joni. I can imagine that now, years later that noise that comes from “boys having fun” would be welcomed once again. I know that “mini sticks was a big deal at our house too! I remember injuries and marks on the wall!!
With my second about to graduate I even miss those days and lately have done a lot if reminiscing about how in the the last few years I wish I could have “saved” those fleeting, busy, hectic, but normal parts of their lives and filed them somewhere to be “relived” at any time. Funny how when we look back we really can appreciate and really miss what was then just a “normal” day in the life of our kids. Glad the little blue ball can make you smile thinking of all the fun it created!
Hi Cheryl! So nice to find your comment in my inbox last night. I enjoy your words so much. Mini sticks seems to be a universal “boy” thing no matter where one lives! It is funny to look back and remember the fun little sticks and little balls could bring to a home with boys (even with injuries and marks on the wall). And you are so right about the “normal” days and how much they are missed. I read a really great book a few years back that changed the way I parented, the way I saw life. It is called, The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is one every mom should read. Hope you are well, Cheryl, and thanks again for taking those few minutes to drop me a note. It means so much.
I love all your letters, but this one touches me especially. I love the timelessness of that little blue ball, and the daily reminder of Will in your home. But more than anything, I love the way you’ve expressed what is so often in my heart – the longing to go back to a time that was so simple and precious, and not always appreciated for what it was. I’m glad you can still hear the giggles of your little boys in your heart.
Thank you for sharing your letters to Will. Know that they resonate with those of us who are also missing a child.
With gratitude and love,
Thank you so much for sending along your note. My heart smiled as a read it knowing that it resonated with you as well. Of course, it did. The “missing/pining/” part of losing a child is so paralyzing isn’t it? I think of you often and have sent you silent prayers and hugs frequently. You were the first mom that I sent pajamas to and each time I bundle up a pair and enclose a letter I think of you. I send you hugs and love and hope for days where there are more smiles than tears. Again, thank you, Carol!