These warm autumn days have been perfect for our morning walk. We leave the house, the five year old springing down the road like a jubilant Spaniel let off the lead. We look for the helicopters of the Sycamore, throwing them with all our might and watching them twirl to the ground. The green of leaves seeps away, replaced with red, yellow, orange, brown. Acorns and beech masts crunch beneath our feet; we stretch into the hedgerows for the last of the season’s blackberries and toss a few into our mouths.
Time is passing. I want to bottle these moments. If I could, I’d uncap the bottle later, wave it beneath my nostrils, inhale deeply and experience them again and again and again.
I would close my eyes and smell washing hanging on the line, autumn breezes lifting the scent of leaves and cones, the top of my son’s warm head. I would remember the cool, slim fingers of my eldest child’s hand resting within mine. I would remember the gratitude in my heart that she still wants to hold my hand, and my worry that today might be the last time she willingly does. I would remember the little ponytail at the back of my daughter’s head, how the soft, downy baby hairs beneath it curl at the nape of her neck. I would remember the slap-slap-slapping sound of my son’s feet as he runs gleefully ahead of me.
Last night I lay beside my youngest child and listened to the sound of his breath as he dropped off to sleep. He mewed a contented sound, one that only he can make. A sound that only I have heard. His dusty lashes flickered against his freckled cheek. I recalled the day he was born, when he lay his cheek against my chest and slept contentedly as I watched him. I didn’t sleep that first night. I was too busy memorising him, falling in love with him. After spending nine months carefully folded within me, like a tight bud, that night he gradually unfurled himself in my arms.
I’ve started writing down the little things the children say and do, so that one day I can go back and remember what it was like. But I rarely, if ever, write down the mundane stuff that comprises our everyday life. Those are the things I want to remember the most, but I lack the words to describe the little things. I want to hold on to what it feels like to be here in this present moment.
It came to me, the day before my son’s birthday, that I would never again be the mother of a four-year-old. The realisation was as poignant and uncomfortable as a stitch in my side. Even now, though I continue on with each day, that stitch, of knowing that these children are growing up, remains with me. I want to put it all in a bottle, stow it in my pocket, and in quiet moments retrieve it to take a secret, quiet sniff.
But then I wonder, while I’m doing that, what would I be missing? Eyes fixed on that bottle, fussing with the lid, what little things would evade my notice? To spend too much time thinking of what I’m missing, I’d be missing what I’ve already got. No. The only way is to remain in the present moment, to cherish each whiff of the now, to inhale deeply of every moment of family life. The memories will always be there, but this moment is passing quickly away. And it is too vast, too expansive, too rich to be confined within a bottle.
©2014 Lisa Hassan Scott.
Thank you to Amanda at Writealm for providing the prompt for this post, “flicker.”