I took Levi and his best friend, Bauer, to the beach yesterday. These two are thick as thieves, fight like brothers and love like best friends. Watching their little friendship develop over these past 5 years has been like getting to watch the magic of childhood be created. I have learned so much about relationship just by watching them figure it all out. In fact, there are times where I have realized that my own relationships would be so much healthier if I could learn to communicate like them. If only I could have the guts to say, “Hey! That hurt me!” Or, “That’s not fair!” Or, “He called me a stinky poop butt!” (Well, that one might not be as applicable, but you get it.) These two are at that great age where they call it like they see it and they call it often. But the reverse of that is that they get to have a better, more hilarious, more carefree relationship than I have ever had. They laugh so much and so hard. They get lost in their own imagination lands for hours. They speak a language only the two of them can understand. It really is magic. Yesterday at the beach I watched them rip my heart in two and then sew it back together again.
These two love the ocean, much to my constant worry of both the undertow and the purple flag flying at the boardwalk, which apparently means dangerous sea life has been spotted. Oy vey. But because I am trying to be a brave mom who doesn’t pass on her lifelong fear of all things ocean, I told them that they could play together in the ocean up to their knees…this proved to be a futile rule because they inevitably ended up way deeper and I inevitably had to risk my life by wading out after them and dragging them back in. But when they heeded my advice, they found themselves in their favorite play land ever: the breakers. It was that powerful spot where the waves had just broken and they could be tossed back up to shore in a heap of snot, laughter and more snot. They loved it. They soon began playing a game where in between the breaks, they would run into each other’s arms yelling, “Brother!” and then they would grasp onto each other with all their little 5 year old life force and bravely wait for a wave to come crashing on them. It looked like this:
How adorable is that? They would stand there, hugging each other tightly, eagerly awaiting the next big wave and when it hit one of three things would happen. Either Bauer’s height over Levi would allow him to temporarily lift Levi above the wave and they would stay standing together. Or Levi’s low center of gravity would keep them steady as the wave washed over them. Or they would totally and completely wipe out together, only to emerge still holding hands and giggling hysterically. They did this over and over and over again.
Sitting on the shore line, watching them and scanning the water obsessively for a sinister fin to pop up, I found my eyes filling with tears as I watched them conquer wave after wave together. I thought about the events that have transpired in our city over the last two weeks and how the city has come to stand behind the victims and families of the horrible shootings that took way too many lives and how the nation and the world has come to stand behind the city. We are all huddled together, clinging to each other for dear life, ready to face the crashing waves that we know are bound to hit any minute.
I thought about my own personal relationships. I thought about the many ways in which the people that I love have held onto me as wave after wave has come crashing down and I prayed to God that those people have felt me hug them back. I thought about those people who have lifted me through a wave taller than me and I thought about those that I hope I have grounded through other waves. And then I thought about those times that the waves have knocked us both down to the ground and I realized just how thankful I am to have friends who tumble back to the shoreline, just to take a deep breath, grab my hand and run back out to the breakers again with me.
Community is hard. I wish it could remain as simple and carefree as the early days of best friend-land, where its all giggles and quick fights with easy resolutions. As we get older, the waves get bigger and the walk back out from the shore gets harder and more exhausting, but I am convinced that the only reason we can take that deep breath and plunge again is because of that person or those people that we know will be embracing us when the waves crash down again…no matter what the outcome might be.