It is usually her brother who finds me first. In the morning. As the dark is beginning to leave.
His six-year old legs stretch from his bottom bunk and he stumbles in my direction with an empty stomach and a heart needing a refill.
And I am ready. Always ready.
Because my heart needs them too. These loves.
And so I set my books aside and unstack the pillows that held them , and I make space for my boy. The one who may not fit into my lap tomorrow. Or who may wander downstairs next week and not across the hall. Or who may think too soon, “I’m too big for that.”
But since this is still our time, I hold my boy in our chair. And we welcome the day with whispered words that wonder what’s for breakfast. Or words that describe a dream that makes no sense in morning light.
It is not his feet this morning that find me. It is hers.
A surprise to both of us.
And because there is no routine, she seats her back against the wall and plumps a pillow in her lap.
And we talk.
Of simple stuff.
Until she asks what I am reading. And I hold up my Bible. “The book of James,” I say. And she nods. And I tell her more. Tell her as I might a confidante that I have been memorizing all five chapters.
She is neither wide-eyed. Nor amazed.
But she listens and follows with her finger as I speak out the most recent section I’ve worked to know.
I have stopped after verse 16 of chapter 5. Just four verses to the end. Verses I will learn another day. Tomorrow, perhaps.
But she is bewildered. “Why would you stop?” she wants to know. “You’re…you’re so close.”
And that’s when it becomes our moment, and I say to my daughter, “Learn them with me.”
And we do. Stuttering, at first. Her head over my shoulder. Until we know the first phrase and have connected it to the next. And until we can say the verses alone and without looking. All four of them.
We are beaming.
Later. When she is building train tracks with her brother, I holler from the kitchen, “Elijah was a man just like us…” And without pause she echoes back, “He prayed earnestly that it would not rain,” and then like that we are chorusing from two ends of the house, “and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years…”
It is enough. Enough to stuff our hearts with joy.
Until the next time. When she finds me. Or I her. And one of us whispers to the other, “Learn with me.”