I was four. Maybe five?
Small enough I fit on my Great Aunt Dorothy’s lap like a bluebird in her nest.
My grandma was driving. Her blonde bee hive hair whispering across the white roof or her ruby red Grenada, the prettiest car I had ever seen.
I don’t remember where I was traveling or what the circumstances were — only that I missed my Momma and I wanted to go home. I had a penchant for big emotions and I was crying. Really, really crying.
All three of us sitting in the front seat they sang and Aunt Dorothy rocked me back and forth. My little body quaking with sobs my little hands held hers as I slowly fought my body to melt into hers.
I remember the ache in my soul of being separated from her, of wanting the comfort and safety that only mommas can give.
“Look do you see the white horse, Lara?” Aunt Dorothy asked.
Sneaky. I loved horses.
My Gram slowed down and out the window stood a beautiful, snow white mare (let’s be real I have no idea if it was or not but in my mind that horse was a momma!). Sunning herself in a pasture, nibbling on grass and rocking her head back and forth, her mane falling from side to side.
“Oh and a windmill, too!” Aunt Dorothy added, “Did you know that white horses and windmills grant wishes?”
My breath caught, my voice tripping over tears I asked her how.
“You lick your right thumb and press it into your left palm. Then you take you right hand, make a fist and stamp your wish!”
Just enough magic.
I licked my thumb and did exactly as she said. My little hazel eyes peering just over the edge of the window searching for more magical horses and dream granting wind mills, not spilling a tear.
Cooper was four. Maybe five?
He was restless in the back seat over a long drive. I climbed back and sat between he and Jackson. I sang and told stories, we rock-paper-scissored it and spied with our little eyes. Not much was working.
And then, we drove past a white horse.
He’s a man now. A young one, for certain. But one with a life of his own. He handles his schedule and his groceries. He pays his bills and attends classes. He makes plans with friends for the weekends and visits his grandparents whenever he’s home.
I could list all the ways I miss him — how I miss him laying in the middle of the living room watching Netflix, listening to music and doing homework. Or how I miss hearing his music bump as he drove up the driveway, only to bust through the door in a hustle and hurry to move on to the next thing. I miss making him dinner. The truth of the matter is I simply miss the weight of him when he’s not here. I miss how he fills up a room. I miss the time we had to be together, I miss when the five of us were just that. My Five.
“Saw an all white horse today”
I read the text a second time.
My hand pressed to my chest, I stood and wept.
In all the ways we connect with our kids and in all the ways we miss them when they grow, what we want is to know that it mattered. We want to know that underneath their futures and their fears lays a bedrock of good night stories and bedtime songs, of tacos for dinner and picnics for lunch, of splashing in mud puddles and long walks searching for rocks. We want to know all the things mattered–certainly the big things, be kind, be honest, be brave, be true. But also the little things, perhaps even more so. We want to know the mended knee in their favorite jeans and the hand written notes in their packed school lunch were remembered, somehow nestled into their DNA to hold them strong when things are tough and to comfort them when life changes. To remind them when they are on their own that we are still here.
PS ~ I have permission to post this 😉