Catching the Sun

Aug 3 2012

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…