Catching the Sun

Cael asked weeks and weeks ago.

“But Mom, did you ever find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?”

And I answered him.

“No, Cael. I never did.”

I knew he meant the question literally, and he deserved an honest answer, so that’s what I gave him.

But I wasn’t happy with my response because I wanted to find the end of the rainbow and a pot of gold. Does that count? The desire to run down the rainbow and capture proof that magic exists?

It’s funny the questions that snag on the rough edges of my brain.

“But Mom, did you ever find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?”

…….

Cai ran across the grass last night.

“I’m going to catch the sun, Mama! Watch!” he said.

“Wear shoes,” I hollered. “And don’t run too fast!” 

And Cai ignored me, a distraction easily dismissed in his pursuit of the fading sun.

I watched with aching sad joy as my son ran pell-mell across the lawn, sprinting and stopping, driven with aimless purpose, like he had somewhere and nowhere to be and needed to be everywhere right now.

The sun can’t be caught, I thought. I know from experience. And I flashed back to the rainbow question. I never did find that pot of gold, Cael. But I adored Mr. Cai’s unshakable conviction that he would certainly touch the impossible. I felt like I was bearing witness to my son’s soul and to my own, and I liked his better, and I hated being right about the sun and the gold and the end of the rainbow.

Sometimes being a grown-up bites.

I sat up in bed later to put my preschoolers to sleep and to play with the pictures on my phone; it’s hard to see all the snapshots in the glaring light of day, so I often don’t know what I have until I find a dark, quiet spot to process them.

I flipped through photos. And then I stopped. Brick wall, end-of-the-line, abrupt stop stopped.

I stopped on this one to stare and stare…

…at my son. Who caught the sun.

Huh.

Would you look at that?

I was still. And I was humbled. And I was convicted.

And I remembered a truth that’s more true than the literal.

Cai fell asleep in 5.2 seconds last night. I guess that’s what a 5-year-old boy who catches the sun does. He plays hard. He harnesses the light. He plunges into sleep. It’s who he is.

Cael and I, though, stayed awake stressing about all the things we left undone and all the things we can’t fix. We play hard. We wonder whether the light is doing a good enough job in the world. And we worry before we sleep. It’s who we are.

Hey, Cael?

Yes, Mama?

Remember when you asked whether I ever found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Yes.

I think I found one tonight, Cael, but it looked different than I thought it would. Want me to tell you about it?

Yes, Mama.

Snuggle down, little man, and listen to this. See if you can find the gold.

Once upon a time, a boy set out to catch the sun…

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
5 comments
  1. wow. really, i should just stop reading your blog, because it is too full of tear-jerkers. 😉 NAH…

  2. I am totally buying your book when it comes out. You touch my heart and make me cry. Not that making me cry is THAT difficult… But your writing is still amazing!

  3. Oh Beth. Your tender story caught me in a tender state and was like a massage for my soul. This has been such a wonderful week where the scale weighed so much more heavily on the magic and wonder and less on the grinding and pained. And when you’re high on the mommy glory and your little one says things like “Mommy, why don’t you believe in fairies?” and I wonder, when did I ever say that? Then she says, “I wish magic was real!” and I wonder, don’t you see the magic? And she cries, “Why is it so much harder for me to fall asleep than everyone else?” and I wonder, why does it worry you so? – the bruises are so much bigger and the heart so much the sorer for it. Thank you for easing my beaten heart, for witnessing the magic… the pot of gold, the sunlight caught, the fairies sighted. Do you believe in fairies Beth?

    ps Those photos are unbelievable! Miraculous in fact.

  4. Fantastic! One of your finest post. Sometimes it’s the journey that’s the prize, not the designation reached. How you looked at things can be a journey, too.

  5. Beautiful! And that picture gave me the shivers! How cool. 🙂

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