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Morning advances and the mist lifts. Sweet, golden sunlight streams through windows thrown wide. Now the sound of fountains can be heard, as I stop my writing to watch the brightening of the day. I walk to our floor-to-ceiling windows, and enjoy my private “cathedral,” thanking Creator for the loveliness and goodness of the world laid before me. I gulp the streams of sunlight; drinking them in, making them my own.

I hear Chris’ bedroom door open. It squeaks, and I remind myself, yet again, to oil its hinges. I hear Kelly, our yellow lab mix, first. Her progress is slow. Old age is advancing, and her knees aren’t what they used to be. But, she trudges on, and finally makes it to the bottom stair. Tail wagging, she comes straight to me for “pets.” She’s white and shaggy, and her black and pink spotted nose is wet and cold. She wants to be scratched behind the ears, so I oblige. It’s a small favor for a good friend.

Fast behind her is the sound of my son’s gamboling footsteps. Christopher does not descend the stairs, nor does he walk down them, or even run. He plummets their length, as only a thirteen-year-old can. He is already singing, eager to start yet another glorious day.

The TV blares! Chris runs into the kitchen for a bowl of Cheerios. “Hi, Mama!” he exclaims, and lunges to give me an awkward, teenage boy hug. He dances around the kitchen, as he prepares his bowl of cereal. Chris is a happy child. Always laughing, singing or inventing something. He likes to cook , and returns to the kitchen to work on one of his “creations.” Today it is “Tuna Aglio e Olio” a pasta dish consisting of angel hair pasta, garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley, tuna, sea salt and pepper flakes. He digs in with relish, slurping the noodles, in spite of Mama’s admonition “Bite down!”

Chris is enamored of his prodigious appetite, convinced that it is the harbinger of pubescence. He longs for puberty! A swimmer, he cannot wait for the muscles of a man to appear: the broad chest, bulging biceps, strong, broad shoulders, tapering down to a trim waist.

I watch him while he eats -- such a sweet and beautiful child. I still have my little boy - for a short while longer. His arms are smooth and round, his shoulders boney; the body of an active child gone from chubby and babyish, to the coltish build of the adolescent, who likes to fish, bullfrog hunt, run with his dog.

Christopher’s hair is a luxuriant, shining brown. His eyes are large and luminous: today green, tomorrow, perhaps a dove gray. His forehead is broad and high, but not overly so, his skin a smooth ivory, his brows clear cut and slightly arched. His face is beautiful, in spite of his birth defect: the severe clefting of the lip, gum and hard and soft palates, now repaired. The surgeons have done their work well. His upper lip is plumping out and the hint of a cupid’s bow is beginning to manifest.

Chris looks up and smiles, gives me the “Love you!” in sign, and bolts for the door, Kelly close on his heels. I call out to him jokingly: “See you in five minutes!” He will play outside until his just-turned-teenager stomach bids him return to the kitchen.

I am alone. I sit and ponder the shape of my life today, and I wonder what I did to deserve all of this. What great thing did I do, that I should have been blessed with my husband, my home, my precious boy? How did I come from a childhood of violence, poverty and turmoil, starvation and loneliness to this Shangri-la?

Debra Shiveley Welch



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