The year before had been mid-chaos and fractured, but I was still living at home and though there was very little in the way of communication between my husband and I, we'd managed to pull together a little party of sorts for the all important Thirteenth Birthday. A few special friends playing basketball in the driveway, plugging in the amp and rockin out on the guitar in the late afternoon spring air, burgers and dogs on the grill, the gift of using an adult friends music studio to have a mini-jam session, and then sundaes and PS2.
This year was different. How could I make his special day "special" when I wasn't even there? I'm the mom - so I did what I could. I spent my car payment on his gift: a used Ibenez Acoustic he'd be sure to love, all set with pickups and gone over in fine detail first. We baked and decorated a cake, piled picnic foods in a cooler, and drove the 70 miles to pick him up.
Our new version of family: my now-14 year old boy, my youngest girl only 12, my grown up girl of 20 who had come home from across the US to live with me briefly, and me. We drove to a favorite hiking place and ate our picnic, blew out candles on the cake, and listened to my boy play his new guitar while sitting on a huge boulder in the middle of a beautiful park. Then we hiked.
In the past, my son had leapt and scampered and dare-deviled his way through the trails and this time was no different but one brief moment found us walking side by side, quietly. I tripped, not an unusual thing, and we bent to see what (if anything) I had stumbled over. My son held my arm for support as I bent over to peer at the ground. I tripped over this:
An ordinary rock? It seemed to be, but still I chose to dig it free from the ground and to our amazement, this is what I found in my hand:
I tripped over love.