He Grabbed His Hand

209BE421-BAD3-47FE-8761-060B88C7F2DCIt’s 1:30am and I can’t sleep.

This is, unfortunately, typical in these days. I’ve read the articles about how the shelter-in-place, going on 8 weeks now, is affecting all of our rhythms, clouding our brains.

It is certainly that. That, and the massive poison ivy rash I’m nursing now for a second week. I wake up scratching absentmindedly, and when I come to, I can’t undo the wake.

But tonight there’s more.

Today my 5 year-old’s preschool, a place that has worked hard with both of my boys, but especially intently with my feeling, perfectionist, bright young guy, had a drive-up graduation.

We are so grateful they did.

Our buddy regularly notes that he misses his friends. He regularly expresses some hesitation about next year: a new school, no familiar faces, a new routine…and routine is everything to this guy.

And so the cheering teachers, the gifts, and the fact that he won the “science award” because, well, you’d be hard pressed to find a kid more enthralled by nature and facts, the kid was having his day.

It was great.

He smiled ear to ear. He had me redo his hair three times (and immediately asked if he could mess it up again after the brief ceremony). He waved and told everyone what he’d been up to and held tightly on to his little diploma.

But he did it from so far away.

I could see it: he wanted to hug them and be hugged. He wanted to give a high-five and fist bump and he wanted to do more than just show up; he wanted to be there.

But he couldn’t. We can’t. Not yet. And for our little guy who feels a lot but is not very touchy-feely, for him to want to do that…and you could see it on his face…and not be able to, well, it’s just another tragedy of this whole mess.

Even if we can be together in these days, it’s mostly just showing up, and not a lot of being, together.

And it made him sad. And it makes me sad for him. Well, and for me. Because those teachers deserved the hugs and high-fives and much more! Our guy is a handful.

And so, as we were standing there, and this little boy just wants to hug someone, to celebrate some joy in a span of weeks that have been marked, even for his little heart, by some anxiety and the daily question, “when will the virus be over?”, as we’re standing there, he reaches over and, without looking, grabs his big brother’s hand.

And he just stands there, holding it.

He just stands there talking to everyone, answering questions, saying thank you, drawing strength from the one place lately where he’s been able to not just show up, but also be and interact: his constant companion.

He grabbed his hand.

And tonight, thinking back on it, I am proud of both of them. For him, because he knew what he needed in the moment and did it. And for his brother, for letting it happen.

And even though I’m up late tonight thinking about all this, I’m not doing so out of worry, but more out of awe and wonder.

I somehow think that today showed he, they, are going to be alright in spite of all this, if they keep doing just that: hanging on to each other, drawing strength, not just showing up, but being there, together.


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