He was tucked in his bottom bunk when I called her. Wound in a blanket that mostly covered his legs, arms splayed like one waiting for a hug or as one who’s passed out from too much fun.
Downstairs I’d reached her. Called my dad’s cell, who then handed it to my mom, who figured I wanted to speak to my sister who then called for my daughter, the one whom I’d entrusted to travel with them to Oregon to camp and who spoke two words into the phone.
“Was it fun?” I’d asked. “Are you having a great time?” Only I couldn’t hear her nodding and so I’d asked again. “Was it great? Are you okay?” And she gifted me an,”Uh huh.”
I sputtered more questions, “are you….? have you…? getting only a “yep” in response. Which was when I waited.
“Could I ask you something?” she said. And I was quick. “Anything.” I pressed the phone to my ear, not willing to miss a word.
There was silence as she waited. Silence and static.
I realized I could have told her all the quirky things her brother had done in the four hours since she’d been gone, things she’d understand and smile at from the other end, but it wouldn’t have been the same as her hearing his voice. And so I said, “hang on a sec,” and I booked it. Rounded the corner. Took the stairs in three and a half bounds, my left arm flapping with the phone in front of me. And I whispered into his tired ear,”Sissy wants to talk to you.”
With the phone in his hands, I watched. Watched my boy’s heart swell with love, with importance, with value. I listened as she told him she missed him. As he met her confession with his own–“I miss you too.” As he promised he would tickle her when she got back. And as she laughed that laugh she saves for him.
Already this morning he is picking lavender for her. Bundles of backyard lavender that he says are for Raven. Lavender strangled in raffia.
And you know what? She’ll love it. Every limp piece of it.
Because it came from him.