The phone call I received from my father, letting me know my mother had suddenly passed away on New Year’s Eve of 2006, came only minutes after I had stepped outside myself for a second and thought, with wonder and appreciation, "this moment is perfect."
It was just me and baby Bunny at home. I was giving her a bath that was full of bubbles. I gave myself a bubble beard and she laughed and laughed. I put a dot of bubbles on her nose and she laughed again. She was going through a phase where she refused to sit down in the bathtub as she should have but I was a softy and I let her stand. She held tightly to my hands as she laughed.
We had nowhere to be – no self-imposed bedtime pressure because it was a holiday. We were just hanging out and the bubbles were HILARIOUS. My phone didn’t ring – it only made the “you have a message” sound. I listened to the voice mail and it was my dad. He wanted me to call as soon as possible. And I knew instantly. And my world changed forever.
It happened again in 2008 at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Stepping outside myself to marvel at my good fortune – with my 3-yr-old daughter frolicking in her lavender fairy costume in the perfect breeze under the bluest sky and my newborn strapped to my chest - I thought, again, that I was experiencing perfection. Until the phone call from the doctor with Pip’s blood test results came through.
Similarly, my surprise divorce on the morning of our 8th wedding anniversary while the kids and I were making anniversary gifts…
And I learned that the Universe has a perverse sense of humor and, quite possibly, a mean streak.
So you can understand my reluctance to acknowledge the perfection we had today. In February, I signed Bunny and me up for Parent/Child Aquatics Camp. She had been sad when I told her I thought she was a bit too little for the all-day Youth Aquatics Camp so this was my compromise. It sounded good in February when I signed us up. It sounded less appealing this evening as I raced around trying to get Pip to a friend’s house and feed Bunny granola bars from Walgreens. I may have generally over-scheduled our Mondays.
We got to the beach and it was gorgeous – warm with a light breeze. I had no idea what to expect, but it turns out parent/child Aquatics Camp goes like this: four young handsome men are standing on a beach amidst a sea of aquatic equipment. One says, “What do you guys want to do? Tubing? Sailing?”
Bunny says, “Sailing!” and a very tan 20-yr-old says, “Cool!” and the next thing we know, we are flying across Lake Michigan on a Hoby Cat. So, basically, it is less a camp and more what it would be like if Willy Wonka's factory made boats and stuff.
After awhile, he said, “Wanna keep sailing? Wanna try something else? I can always take you out again later.” We opted to go in and try something else. The boy said, “If you wanna go tubing now, that boat is waiting for ya.” We waded out to a speedboat and were soon leaping waves as a school friend of Bunny’s and his mom practically flew behind. When it was our turn, I was certain Bunny would be terrified. The waves were huge and she was, by far, the tiniest one on the boat.
Bunny was not terrified. Not at all. In fact, as our tube leapt and crashed, Bunny laughed and squealed and shouted “I’M KING OF THE LAKE!!!” We stopped only because my arms were wearing out. Bunny would have kept it up for another half hour.
I couldn’t stop looking at her on that raft. She’s gorgeous and fun and smart and adventurous. She’s perfect. And for about 15 minutes, we were the only two people in the world and time seemed to stop for us. It was perfect.
I came home and checked my email with my breath held, certain there would be some awful surprise. But it was clean. I waited for my phone to ring but it didn’t. Huh.
It could be that the cat evened everything out by pooping no less than 3 times on the floor and ruining two adorable bathroom rugs. Maybe that’s all the Universe can dish out for me tonight. Maybe she’s done her worst already.
That doesn’t mean that my guard isn’t up, Universe. You won’t surprise me again.
But thanks for letting me have that magical 90 minutes with one of the loves of my life without having to pay too heavy a price.
I will not be checking my email tomorrow.
Just in case.
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