Carter and I are facing each other on the little twin bed, the one he and Madeleine dragged from her room into his for reasons I still don't quite understand. He is buried under two blankets and one very toasty sleeping bag while I lie on top of the covers in my long sweater, jeans, heavy socks and boots.
"You goin' somewhere?" he asks, and I wonder. As our family morphs into a new configuration, it's not clear at the end of the day who will sleep where. For all the peace we've forged in the process, so much is still uncertain.
"I'm not sure yet," I say, imagining how well I'd sleep next door at Nick and Jess's guest bed with that down comforter and four hundred thread count sheets instead of this tiny bed. "But I'm here right now. Tell me what you're thinking."
He smiles in his own unflappable way and scans the ceiling, thinking up his answer.
"Okay. So if you were ever stranded on a desert island and you could only bring one thing, what would you take?" He says "desert" like dessert and I imagine sandy shores made out of sugar-y pixie sticks with gummy candy palm trees swaying in the wind. I don't think I'll ever say desert island properly ever again.
"That's easy. A lifetime supply of paper and pens."
"Mom, be serious."
"No, I am being serious. If I had a lifetime supply of paper I could write about everything I was thinking and experiencing and I would never be lonely or bored. What about you?"
He doesn't miss a beat. "A pair of socks," he says, and I see his eyes light up like the Christmas tree that we forget to unplug every single night.
"Socks? You've got to be kidding me," I say, but he's not.
"No, seriously," he explains. "Socks. Number one, they're really warm. Number two, you can use them for sock puppets which are really fun. Number three, you can put a rock in them and they make a really useful weapon."
"Really?" I'm positive I'm listening to a regurgitated Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, but Carter claims full authorship of this clever idea. Socks. On a desert--I mean--dessert island. Why didn't I think of that?
He has the widest grin, so completely captivated with his own brilliance, and I wish for the lifetime supply of paper right now so I can get started making myself happy by writing down all the ways he makes me glad--dessert islands and practical wishes being just about as good as it gets.
I'm reminded reading of recent losses online, that none of us really knows what the future holds. Things fall apart, the unfathomable happens. Something unexpected shows up out of nowhere and turns everything upside down in an instant. And you can't imagine how you'll ever be the same again.
Tonight, in honor of the dessert islands, brilliant moments and impossible losses, let's ask our kids a silly or heartfelt question and savor the sweetness of the answer. This is the moment we have to share. Feel free to offer up the question you'd like to ask your kids in the comments below.
dedicated with so much compassion and love to Shellie Ross who lost her son this week