Lights of My Life

No matter what else may be going on in my life, there are two people who always make it all better, and they’re only three years old: my niece and nephew. Emi and Noah came to visit this past weekend, bringing light, laughter, and love into our home. After a lunch of curry meatballs and rice noodles (a twist on spaghetti and meatballs), they asked to go downstairs and play. There is a pool table and television, along with an expansive length of carpet fit for chasing and running the entire length of the house. After making a few rounds through the space, Uncle Al plopped down on the couch and turned on the lazy babysitter, searching for a movie fit for the three-year-old set.

‘Harriet the Spy’ was a possibility, ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ was nixed, and ‘Ice Age’ was requested but never found. We settled briefly on ‘Legend’ per the twins’ request – which would have terrified me as a child (I still have nightmares of ‘The Dark Crystal’) but in the end what was on television mattered less than the three of us cuddling on the couch.

Emi fussed with the heavy blanket and said, ‘Let’s get closer together,’ pulling the blanket up to her chin. Noah giggled and burrowed closer to his sister. I sat there, slightly puzzled at how such a simple gesture – just being close to someone – could be so comforting for a child. And for whatever reason, tears came suddenly and unexpectedly to my eyes. It had been so long since someone wanted to be close to me.

I thought of how safe it felt. Maybe this was why people loved children so much – they made them feel safer, brought them back to the protective cocoon of childhood.

The notion of watching G-rated movies with a couple of kids may be an average night for most families, but for me it was a novelty, a moment of respite from the darkness of so much of adult life. With other things in flux and in danger, the act of cuddling on the couch is a thing of surety. There are few things in this life of which we can be certain, and they seem to be dwindling the older I get, but of this tiny pocket of time I could be assured.

As their Dad made motions for them to leave, Emi asked if they could stay longer.

“How long?” my brother asked.

She thought about it for a second then said, “Two hours!”

They settled on five more minutes.

It was the best five minutes I’ve had in a long time.

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