Kids these days.
Those headphones, the online gaming, the laughing or yelling at their buddies deep into the night.
I share a bedroom wall with this particular kid. A thin bedroom wall at that. So many a night around here ends – or perhaps begins? – with me plodding off to bed at 10, stopping to poke my head in to Griff’s room. He pulls a headphone off one ear, keeping one eye on the terrorists scurrying around that 60-inch TV screen of his, and assures me he’ll keep it down.
Still, there are plenty of nights where I’m awakened at 2 a.m., laying there a second, trying to figure out why. Then I hear it next door. I flip off covers and go remind him that some of us begin our workdays at 7 a.m.
Last night, I stopped to poke my head in to Griff’s room.
“Hitting the sack – do you need anything before I do?” I ask.
Pulling the headphone off an ear, “No, I’m good,” he responds.
“Goodnight,” I say. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Dad.”
I didn’t care about any reminders to keep it down. It was just so wonderful to be working in the living room all day, listening to him laughing and carrying on with his buddies again from him room. That could go on all night, as far as I was concerned. Music to a parent’s ears.
And I slept all the way until almost 5 a.m. He may have kept it down, I’m not sure. I know I’m exhausted, plus I never heard him cough even once last night. That in itself was more comforting than any cozy bed has ever been in my life.
But the reason I did awaken shortly before 5 was that I’d had a dream that Griff was drowning in the ocean, bobbing and swimming, frantically trying to make his way toward me. He was at the top of a gigantic wave – like, action-movie gigantic – with an enormously deep crevice between the two of us.
He was reaching for me.
I was reaching for him.
Then a moment where we both stopped and just looked at each other.
I jolted awake, out of breath.
I got up, made a good cup of coffee. Then another.
I walked the dog.
Then I sat on the back porch and stared a while.
Eventually, I picked up my dog-eared copy of Rainer Rilke’s “Letters on Life.” I’ve read it so many times now, and there is so much comfort and wisdom in this 200-page book, I now sort of make a game out of just sticking my thumb into it and pulling it open, trusting that my Universe will decide what I need to hear. In this particular book, his writings are organized according to topics such as “On Nature,” and “On Life and Living,” on “Difficulty and and Adversity,” and so on.
I stuck my thumb in and it was the exact page where the section “On Illness and Recovery” begins. I’ve stopped trying to get my mind around these things a couple of years ago.
There is nothing more joyous than being able to truly make use of oneself again, whether in the service of plans or of memories; and what is most beautiful is the moment when plans and memories coincide and produce the desire and freedom to continue the one in the other.
There was much fear in the moment Griff and I locked eyes.
But there also was the beauty Rilke speaks of.