My dance card is super-full today and I love it.
Nothing like everyone noticing I was starting to fall behind. Christmas is stressful. There's extra traffic/calories/projects/chores/errands/shopping/ and of course, bills.
I pay bills, thanks. In blood, sweat and tears, no less.
There's extra stress when you get bad news or when you can't just gather up every single person you love in one room. There are teenagers with broken hearts and men hanging on to a wagon with all their might. There are assumptions and expectations and there is ruinous greed. There is pure selflessness. There is heart. Magic. There is something.
There is something.
I always try to figure it out. It used to hit mid-Elementary school concert like a wallop from a fluffy snowball but now there are no more concerts because high schoolers. Picky, funny high schoolers who will hopefully love their presents and while I wanted to give them everything they've ever wanted, I didn't. Because you can't. You shouldn't, anyway.
And then there are the boys who have given up so much but yet take so much at the same time. No more motorbikes, loads more affection. No leaving at the end of the day/meal/activity traded for the glaringly obvious privacy issues. All the juggling and balancing I could ever want for in practice watching over a house full of different personalities even as they sometimes are not all that different, right down to having the same clothes, as I discovered when I went to put away laundry yesterday and found three of the same flannel shirts. I thought someone had lent his out. I thought they were playing tricks on me. I didn't realize maybe they are that much alike sometimes.
Makes them easier to love. I know what I'm up against.
They all kind of stop and wait at once, reaching back with encouragement and smiles and hands held out. Waiting for little Bridget to catch up, tripping on roots and scrambling over rocks as fast as her short little legs will carry her, face and knees filthy, shirt ruined, shoes and braids caked in mud.
It was one of those times where I just came to a skidding halt in the half-light, standing fifty feet back underneath and slightly behind the trees. Frustrated. Incompetent. Not as capable. Scared. And I would wait because I knew he would come back and then I would get a piggyback ride the rest of the way to the ball field and that would be easier than trying to keep up.
Late last night I finally had a chance to go and check on the Devil, who is settling back in and loved the special touches I took in preparing for his return. He kissed my cheek and told me my arrival called for something special and he opened a bottle of champagne, pouring two glasses. He brought one to me and suggested we take them outside to look at the lights.
Outside it was cool so he put his suitjacket around my shoulders, telling me to close my eyes.
Then he disappeared.
I waited forever, starting to shiver. Now it's raining in my champagne and yeah. I told him I could only wait another moment and I started to count. I heard him come back before I got to twenty-five and he said Open your eyes, Neamhchiontach.
When I did, the whole cove was lit up. The boat was lined with lights, the dock, the roof, the path (from what I could see) and then along the beach right around to the end of the point. Tiny white fairy lights, like the ones from Sam and Matt's wedding but on a much grander scale.
Caleb held up his glass and said To being with family for the holidays, as if we are related. I clinked my glass to his and drank it all, even though I knew it would give me a blistering headache in the space of five minutes.
He watched my face until he couldn't bear to watch me struggle with my expressions any longer, and then he walked me back to the side door of my house, took his jacket back, kissed my cheek and shoved me inside.
He was always the one who came back for me. The one with endless patience and kindness and generosity where the others would be caring but anxious, always in a rush. always fed up with having to wait or go slow or keep checking. Caleb took it upon himself to carry me. He was the biggest, the oldest, the nicest.
Until the day Lochlan decided it was his job, and that's when everything changed. Now they struggle with who is allowed to care. Who is allowed to help or play the jester or who is allowed to occupy my time, what lines are drawn in front of which shoes and who is bad touch and who is not. Adult problems and childlike solutions. Nothing ever changes here.