I started writing a post yesterday. I was going to tell you how life seems to get busier and busier every second, and how I'm feeling pretty worn down. But I was going to counter all of that by appreciating the small moments the day hands me, like savoring the apricot gooseberry jam my mom made, emptying the whole mason jar within a few short days.
Minutes after Millie asked, "Mama, you're taking a picture of your food? Why?", our morning began rolling downhill, and fast. Millie was restless (and rightfully so), and Walter was having a rough day, needing to be held more than usual (which I didn't think was possible). By the time Sky was home for the day from his unexpected week on Army orders, it had escalated to either go out for Chinese or risk the house imploding. I still felt that pent up adrenaline and frustration after we left, though. I don't even remember my fortune, but it probably wasn't very promising.
As Sky was ready to turn towards home, we spotted a couple hot air balloons floating by. It must be something that happens every year, because I saw them from the hospital room window when Millie was born (and her birthday is tomorrow). Sky switched off the turning signal and spontaneously began driving the roads between high cornfields, trying to get closer to them. We didn't catch them that night. But on the way home, the sun was drenching everything in the most gorgeous, golden light. I snapped a picture of it from the window.
It didn't hit me until a few minutes later; I had witnessed the sunset. It was something I hadn't done for a good, long time. As fate would have it, only a little while after writing an entire post about it, I saw one after all. Surrounded by unusually cool July air, Midwestern scenery of crops growing tall, and with Sky beside me and the babies content in the back, it was there. It was brilliant.
Today has started out like a carbon copy of yesterday. There isn't enough coffee, and my wildest fantasies now include using my flat iron and finding a clean outfit to wear. And really, I don't expect it to change anytime soon. Having kids is exhausting sometimes, and having more than one of them is a whole other realm of challenging.
On mornings like this one, I will be trying to remember the sunset. I may not see many these days, but I saw that one. I needed that moment of quiet and beauty to get me through the million other moments of noise and messiness. If the only calm I get these days is a few slices of toast and the occasional sunset, then I have to stretch them for all they're worth. That, and keep remembering that someday, and sooner than later, I will miss the chaos of this time when even toast is a luxury.
I have one other story to tell you today, though. One that melted me completely.
While we were in the children's hospital last week, the nurse brought in a bundle and set it in the crib for Walter. It was a blanket (donated from Project Linus) and a blue sock monkey with a moon and stars sewn onto his belly. I thought it was sweet, snapped his picture with it, and brought it to his room when we came home.
But the next day, I stumbled on the story behind that monkey and I was blown away. It was part of a donation in honor of a little boy named Dawson. He passed away at the hospital before he had even reached one year old. His family decided to collect sock monkeys and distribute them to children in the hospital as a thank you for their son's care and as a way to celebrate him; they sewed the little moon and stars patches because his mother often told him she "loved him to the moon and back".
What would have been his first birthday was Walter's due date. As I scrolled through all the photos of this little baby, I noticed he was wearing the same outfit that we had bought for Walter before he was born (getting them for a little brother and little sister to take into the hospital with us). Looking at the picture of Walter in the crib with that monkey, I couldn't help but be moved to tears at how lucky we are. This family lost their precious son. We didn't.
I wrote Dawson's mother that night and told her our story, and she asked if she could post the photo on Dawson's page and the monkey donation page. Someone commented that it was as if Dawson was there, keeping Walter company. I'd like to think so. When we were leaving the hospital, Sky asked if I wanted to get him something from the gift shop, but I didn't. As it turns out, we had received the most valuable gift already.