The island stood alone in the distance. The faint glow of the lighthouse’s lens circled around and around, drawing all eyes in. When the ferryboat arrived we piled in, a skiff filled with different colors and voices and thoughts. An enchanting boat ride ensued, complete with miles of uninhabited beaches, shimmering water and wild ponies.
This family vacation felt like paradise, especially when I looked into the shining faces of my two young sons. My little guys were like coiled wire, ready to spring at any moment. Exploring the lighthouse grounds, combing the beaches, jumping in the waves…the only regretful part was that it had to end.
When the ferry returned for its cargo, we all obediently filed down the plank once again. The island spilled its contents haphazardly into the little skiff; we all sat tangled together, a mass of arms and legs and sun kissed skin. My little one sat on my lap, his brother to my right, subdued into silence by the motor’s lullaby. I felt the small body in my arms jostling about. I was aware of the flashes of light reflected off the pristine waters as the sun receded into the indigo bed below it. My heart was filled with thankfulness and quiet joy.
The kinship of the ocean drew me to the faces of the others. Their expressions held the peacefulness that I, too, felt. A mother, in middle age, sat with her teen-age son, shoulder to shoulder. The fullness of his forearms and upper chest jiggled with the rhythm of the skiff on his still developing frame. They were seemingly unaware that their bodies were touching, sitting impassively side by side. His coloring was hers, his eyes, her eyes.
I buried my face in the hair of my young son and breathed him in. He smelled of salt and sand, of sun warmed flesh. My heart swelled with love for this little boy. I wondered if we would grow into this mother and son who were jostling about before me. Will there be a time when his kisses and hugs will not flow so freely? When we will sit dispassionately beside one another, side by side bumping through life?
The answer to my question is reflected in the shrug of my older son’s shoulder as I reached over to gently touch him. Recently he said to me, quite seriously, “Mom, you have to stop this hugging stuff.”
With only the slightest hesitation and with a lump in my throat I responded, perhaps a little too emphatically, “Never! As long as I live I will never stop wanting to hug you and kiss you.”
I gazed at the mother and her adolescent son again from under the cover of my lashes. They seemed happy, appeared to be comfortable sitting there aside one another.
I would have worried had the teenage boy been sitting close to his mother and cuddling her as my littlest was doing me. After all, isn’t it our job to fledge them well? To send them soaring from the nest while we stand patiently alone?
Alone, like the island until the ferryboat arrives to fill it full of life and color once again.