I was running late cooking dinner, sauteing chopped onion in olive oil and melted butter. I heard the sound of a lawn mower coming from a distance, slowly approaching to the kitchen window.
Why hurry, I told myself. Stephen had just started his mower and the boys would be busy following their Daddy's heels until the last blade of grass is cut short. I took a deep breath to slow down. Summer days are easy. No homework, no getting up early the next day.
|Queen Anne's Lace + my art: Contemplating in our kitchen|
I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw my 5-year-old just a few feet away from his Daddy. I looked around expecting to find my youngest son, but I couldn't find him. "Where is he?" I felt a tightness in my chest.
I flung opened the window and called my husband. He stopped the mower immediately, looked around and shook his head. He didn't know where the boy was.
He called the boy's name loud once, twice, and three times. No response.
My husband ran to the front yard looking for his son. I dropped the wooden spoon in the sizzling pan and ran out from the poach door with bare feet.
Where could he be? My heart pounded hard in my chest, while running through the garage to the front yard trying to find a trace of that little boy.
He was only a week shy of becoming three years old. He could make a bad choice without knowing its consequence. Did he follow a ball rolling down our steep drive way to the street? Could he be taken away by a stranger who came from the woods?
"Oh no, God, no! Don't let that be!" I pleaded as I frantically looked around our front yard. He was not there. I couldn't breathe.
I turned the corner to the side of our house, and I saw his chubby legs pushing the pedals hard on his red Radio Flyer tricycle.
I grabbed him from the bike and squeeze him tight in my arms.
"Thank you, God, for keeping him safe," I whispered, as I let out a sigh of relief. I pressed my lips to his soft cheeks, covered in sweat and dirt. His cheeks were warm and we were safe. But the tightness in my chest didn't go away.
I have a quiet ache that runs deep within me. My heart aches for my boys every day - when they are hurt or struggle to make new friends. My heart grieves for the things I have lost over the years, too. The time I could've spent with my family who lives on the opposite side of the planet and the financial security we once had.
Every time I'm not sure if I could keep pushing forward, I would look up and capture something beautiful like a snapshot. The moment my son gave me a little shiny pebble he found in the backyard with his grin so wide and proud. The moment I wondered if I could see my grandmother again while she's still alive, then turned around and found my husband tenderly smiling at me. I savor those fleeting moments of happiness before they slip through my fingers.
When did my world come alive with all these of emotions? When did I start tasting fresh corn so sweet, a homemade blackberry pie so tart? When did I realize a handful of Queen Anne's Lace from our land is more graceful than a store bought bouquet of flowers?
Was it when I became a parent? When I moved to a foreign country by myself? When we decided to change our careers despite the financial risks?
I once knew happiness, the kind that didn't cause any aches. The safe kind that doesn't involve any risks. I lived a sheltered life and smiled like an innocent flower. I didn't know what it meant to be stepping out of that boundary of my comfort zone and really live.
All the pains and aches I've been through over the past several years have woken my senses and given me a new set of eyes to see things in a different light. I find myself yearning to live and taste life in a way I've never done before. The deeper the ache your heart knows, the more beautiful and vibrant the world becomes. You will never know what sweetness really tastes like without knowing the taste of bitterness.