Saturday, April 19, 2014

Left Behind

My kids have many talents. Chief among them: they know how to fight.

They can start with teasing, build to bickering and then morph into full-on fighting, all before I even make my first cup of coffee in the morning. Yes - it's annoying. Even if it is, practically speaking, typical sibling behavior.

They love each other, they really do. And they look out for each other. Sometimes.

The other night, Seamus and Kyra were both invited to a sleepover at Uhh-Ron's house, just across the traffic circle and down the street. We ate dinner at the Embassy before heading home to pack and walk over.

I grabbed a sweatshirt, but Seamus stopped me and said that he wanted to walk over with Kyra by himself.

It was 9 at night on a Thursday night - the beginning of a busy weekend night on the roads here in Amman.  The house they were going to isn't far - maybe a 5 minutes walk? - but it's across a traffic circle. And they're my babies: my fighting, bickering, teensy little babies.

So of course I said no.

Seamus insisted. He walks over there by himself quite frequently, but never this late and never with his little sister.

He insisted. Kyra stood next to him, nodding eagerly and bouncing up and down at the thought of this adventure with her big brother. "I'll hold his hand, I'll hold his hand!" she promised over and over, until finally, I relented.

I opened the front door. It looked cold and dark and scary out there to me. I wanted to slam the door shut and shout "I changed my mind!" But just as I opened my mouth to protest, tiny Kyra looked up at her big brother, who held his hand out to her. She reached out to grab ahold of his hand, and the two of them stepped across the threshold together, leaving me behind.

I watched them walk down the path together and through the gate. They disappeared into the dark, in the direction of the traffic circle. A truck rumbled by just at that moment. In the distance, horns blared. I kept the door ajar, listening, listening, waiting to hear a squeal of tires or a scream of fear.


The moon was out, just clearing the top of the apartment across the way. I stared at the moon as I listened, imagining their path down the street, imagining them waiting at the circle for a break in the traffic, willing them across safely, picturing them heading downhill toward the mosque, hand in hand.

Only a few minutes passed as I waited thus, but it felt like an eternity. An eternity passed, and an eternity still to come, as I wait in the coming years for parties to end and dates to bring them home and college semesters to pass.

They fight a lot, it's true. But I'm clinging to that image of my son, extending a hand to his baby sister, who takes his hand and steps out into the night, the two of them together, hand in hand, heading out into the wide world without me, ready for all manner of big adventures.


Kim Vukovich said... [Reply]

Made me tear up! Beautiful piece.

Please. Write your own stuff.