I leave for Japan in two weeks.
11 days to explore. 11 days to stitch and mend places in my heart that have remained unravelled for years. 11 days to find a story I thought I would never write. 11 days to bring the words back to life.
Two weeks, he whispered. Two weeks and you will be on a plane, mama.
His feet pressed into the dirt where the ground was still soft. A leaf hung lopsided between his fingers as a spiral of light drew circles around his toes.
There is still time. Time to see the change open up before us. See the rusty vein of light die and grow new again. Time to hold it all just a little bit longer before the frost brings her icy glare.
So we searched the ground for remnants of a summer past. Found beauty in the dying leaves. Watched them shake with remembrance. Felt the soft side of a worn pocket on our cold fingers.
The ground glistened with frozen dew melting in the morning light.
A leaf curled inside his hand. His fingers rubbed the place where the vein was torn from life. Pulled from the green urgency of spring. He held it to his face. Let his eye find the place where the worn edges broke off, leaving a place for him to see.
It’ll fly again.
His eyes filled with the bend of afternoon light.
When the wind comes. It’ll fly again.
And I wondered if it was the torn edges of time that carry us in a new direction, carry us places we never thought we'd go if it wasn’t for the open space a good tear can bring.
Because sometimes we can walk around something for years, step over the corpse of memory, never fully taking the time to lean over and mourn the person that once lived there inside its hollow skin and bone.
To take the time to close her eyes, move a hand over each lash remembered.
And there is the press of a hand on my back. Not a push. But rather, a hold, keeping me from stepping backward, holding me nose to nose with the moment before me.
A voice flutters.
Come alive. Be free. Dance with the wind. There is no where else to be but inside the sky’s wide hold.
Be the soft whisper alive inside the trees.
There is the call to find beauty in the places left abandoned and torn inside empty chambers of fear.
Because sometimes it’s the choice itself that opens the chamber door, frees the lies and long buried tales of someone you never were.
His eyes met the open meadow light. Head perched in the swing of concentration.
They all look different, mama.
Each wing tells its own story.
Each wing, its own song.
Some are heavy like a band of steel coiled around its stem, the weight of protection keeping them on the ground. Others, so light they lift and fall with every turn of the wind, pushed and pulled through the eaves of change.
And there are wings destroyed, thrown aside behind the boxes of another life, waiting for someone to restring the soft places pulled away from the waiting frame.
There’s a rumble, mama. A storm.
Your wings were made for storms.
Your wings were made to tear.
Your wings were made to be rebuilt.
Each time, different.
Each time, new.
Each time, stronger.
There is the act of mending. Putting each wing back together, stitching and repairing the places that tore upon its initial flight.
And sometimes it takes the hands of another person’s kindness to help us fly, to lift our wings places we never dreamed possible.
Other times, we have to make our own wings. Set ourselves free. Stitch and mend ourselves back together and take the giant leap alone.
The clouds swung between the bend of leaves and light. His fingers reached for a drowned feather.
Where do the birds go when it storms?
Where do they hide?
Sometimes we have to return to the wound to turn it into something else. Something beautiful. Something healed. To let your fingers dig awhile, let them lift its soft body from the ground. To let it feel the soft sky wonder of a new day. A day when the clouds have lifted, spread their arms wide enough to give way to the star’s golden light.
There is something beautiful here.
Something to be remembered.
And we've come so far just to find out we were there all along, circling the same beautiful place inside us, spiraling closer evermore to the dewy wet ground birth of becoming.
His boot touched the edge of a puddle. Mud swirled from its rubber tip.
It’s just a puddle mama. Walk around it.
There is sunshine on the other side.
Sometimes you have to use your wings to see something in a new way.
Because there are things that can only be seen from the sky, from the closed eye leaps of trust.
And the mountains and the seas and the salt strewn air holds words waiting to grab hold of your outstretched wings. Those wings you mended and repaired for years. New wings, made from the torn and tattered pieces of the old, places where the wind pushed too hard, where the rain tore open veins and dulled the brightest hues of color. Places where the stitch of courage pieced us back together again.
Sometimes you don’t know what the story is until you open your wings wide enough to hold it.
His fingers shook as he slid a leaf behind my ear.
You’re flying, mama.
And for minute I could feel the wind under my wings, turning me toward the blue sky, casting the long open shadow of courage over the ground.
He hugged my arm and nuzzled his face into my sleeve.
Do you remember the movie we made?
The one with the feather we set free.
It was five years ago already. There was the long tall grass of summer’s end and his 6 year old hair under a dusty hat he found in Grandma’s attic. We were smaller then. Our wings rouged with night terrors and summer sweat. A daunting fog of mishaps hard to see.
But we planned. We drew and conspired a world somewhere in the future where these wings would somehow be made new again.
And we wrote without words. A video to remember. A secret message drawn for another day.
Knowing somewhere, somehow we would need it one day. Would need those moving pictures to remind us of where we’re going. Where these wings have been and how far they’ve travelled with us.
And the wind has whispered so much inside my heart since then.
He watched the tears come down my cheeks and wiped them with the back of his hand.
Why are you crying, mama?
You. You and your wings, sweet boy.
You were so small.
He reached for a strand of hair and tucked it neatly behind my ear.
And Scout and Jonas and remember the bee that stung me? I hated that bee.
I hated that bee too.
Don’t you remember, mama? We made them together. We made our wings together.
Out of all the scraps. The lost time. The things we didn’t think mattered.
It wasn’t perfect, mama.
No, it wasn’t perfect.
He wiped the last tear from my cheek.
But it was perfectly us.
We followed the light past the tallest trees, let the shadows turn our skin cold then warm again. He twirled the feather inside his hand, lifting it up and over his head before giving it to the wind.
I felt the leaf behind my ear shake and let go as it drifted up over the waves of light and time.
Are there tigers in Japan, mama?
Will you bring me back a sword?
His mouth opened wide as he waited for me to answer.
I will bring you back a sword.
Bring your boots mama. It might storm.
It’s ok, sweet boy.
I have my wings.