Stolen Moments

Written By: Miranda - Sep• 08•10

A few weeks ago I saw a baby. I was coming around the north end of Lake Morey and I passed a long low wooden building with porches all along the front. The baby was on a green lawn in front of the building. It wore a long dress made of stripes of brightly colored woven fabric, reminiscent of Guatemalan indigenous weaving. The baby was completely bald.
It was walking very carefully with both hands straight up in the air. A woman in blue jeans held one hand and they were walking towards another woman who stood on the porch with a striped dishtowel over her shoulder and the woman was smiling.

Another thing I saw was a flock of birds. I was on my way to work and driving down the interstate highway south. I saw what looked like a large flock of geese off in the distance, flying north, flying toward me. But they flew like no flock of geese I’d ever seen. The black forms against the morning sky first began to form the usual V but then began spreading out into a long line. Then they began coiling and uncoiling the line, moving it in serpentine curves across the sky. I could not stop but I slowed down as much as I dared to watch them. The curving, coiling line passed my car, off to the left, and I opened my window to listen to them but they did not make a sound.

John Hiatt calls them stolen moments. “Don’t you know we are living in stolen moments?” he sings.  More and more often these moments strike me and stay, golden and perfect in my mind. It begins to seem as if life is a string of stolen, golden moments.

My son graduated from high school just last month. I went to the Baccalaureate ceremony the Sunday evening before graduation. It was held in the Congregational church on the green. It is a very old church, the oldest meetinghouse in Vermont, built in 1787. It is very plain and graceful inside. The walls are a sort of parchmenty yellow and the woodwork is white. The windows are very tall and run all the way from the white wainscoting to the choir loft and balcony.
Martha, the Head of School, talked about having known many of the young men and women as children. She talked about how we as a community had watched over them all their lives and picked them up when they fell and kept them safe. Now, she said, it was time for them to fly, but like trapeze performers who fly through the air under the big top they must let go of the first bar in order to fly to the next, held up by nothing but air. It would be frightening, she said, but they must do it. Their community would still be watching them from below, she said, and we would hold the net for them should they need it.

My son and I have been planning for this change. He will have our house, and I intend to move in with a friend who lives in the next town north. My son has been accepted to the college of his choice. The college is nearby. He’ll live at home while he attends college, but it will be his home, not his and mine anymore.

My son stayed at the school graduation party all night after the ceremony and came back home at about 5:30 in the morning. He told me that when the school bus brought them all back from the athletic club where the party was held, as the students got into cars and trucks to go home, there was a spontaneous mass “peel-out” from the school parking lot. “Even I laid rubber, Mom,” he said, laughing. “I didn’t know my car could even do that!”

He went to bed and as he slept I got out the card I had bought to give to him for his graduation. It had a picture of a dirt road curving around a bend in the woods, and I opened it and began to write:

Dear Chris,
I bought this card because the road in the picture curves around the bend. I cannot see where it goes, I cannot see the end.
I do not know where your road will take you. If life works as it should, I will never see the end of your road.
I hope that your journey is long. I hope the journey holds many joys for you.
I love you more than I ever thought it possible to love anyone. After almost twenty years it is now time for me to let you go to travel your own way, on your own road. A safe journey I wish you.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back and the rain fall soft upon your fields.

And I wrote that a sum of money had been deposited in his account to help him on his journey and I signed it: with love.

I left the card propped up on his desk and a few hours later, he came to me as I sat at the table reading the newspaper and sat down opposite.
“I was really touched by your card,” he said. “I know this is hard for you, Mom.”
I held out my hand and he clasped it across the table. My eyes were wet and my vision blurred.
“I love you, Chris,” I said.
“I love you too,” he said.
After a moment he got up and turned to go but then he turned back.
“So, when are you moving out? “ he said.
And in the cocked eyebrow, the triangular grin, and the perfect timing of the delivery, I saw his namesake: my brother.

Stolen moment.

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  1. […] did I spend a couple of weeks polishing up Stolen Moments? The simple answer would be because I enjoy it, it’s a hobby like gardening or something.  A […]

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