From where I sit right now, I can look up out the basement window and see my boyos playing outside in their fort, not fifteen feet away. They are playing well together, and it is my favorite thing to watch.
And one of those places is RockyGrass.
Why? Perhaps it’s because I’m there with some of my favorite folks in the world. Maybe because of the beauty of the St. Vrain River, and how it sings to me of peacefulness. Maybe it’s the music; its long tradition – the way it carries the pain and hope and despair and joy of ages. Maybe it’s the people; everyone is so friendly and kind, never a fight despite the vast quantities of beer consumed. Must be those sweet-smelling breezes…
Pepper-smelling, breezes straight from
Free love in the air.
I’m always protective of my boyos when we’re in public, as most moms are. Maybe it comes from enduring such a horrific pregnancy. Maybe from enduring such a horrific neighborhood during their first year-and-half. I make the boyos hold my hands, I administer warnings about running away, about being too loud, about a million things.
I shouldn’t admit it, but I worry more about Jack. I always have. He’s the smaller of the two, born underweight, a quiet baby turned into a daring whip of a toddler afraid of nothing; my tumbling Jumping Jack, running out of my reach, then turning to offer a defiant smile. My chatterbox, offended when a stranger doesn’t return his ‘hello.’
Declan is the opposite; muscular, cautious, thoughtful, a born engineer, and in many ways his brother’s keeper.
Which is why I was so shocked when he was the one who disappeared on Saturday.
I was careless. I’d dropped my guard too much. Declan was sitting next to me on one of the large stones lining the river. He said he wanted to go up the bank to see Daddy, who was right above us. I let him go.
But Daddy had gone twenty feet away, into the smoking tent. He came back, leaned over the bank and said, “Where’s Declan?”
I stared stupidly at him. “With…you?”
We split up, going in opposite directions, eyes scanning the crowd.
I kept telling myself, ‘He’s all right. This is a safe crowd. There are kids running around everywhere. Nothing’s happened to him.’
It just takes one crazy.
‘There are so many good people here. Good people with kids. No one’s going to take him.’
But the river.
‘There are a million people in the river. No one will let him go in. He’s afraid of the water anyway.’
Then where is he?
‘I’ll find him.’
And then all I could think about was my breath and the beer I’d drunk, and how it would all give me away when I spoke to an officer. Another stupid hippie mother who’s lost her child because she can’t control herself.
PeeWee came up behind me, looking as worried as I felt.
I gave in, and followed along the St. Vrain. But I couldn’t look at it.
And then we saw him, holding a woman’s hand, heading towards us over the grass.
The joy I felt, the relief. It showed on PeeWee’s face, so much so that the woman thought Declan was her son. PeeWee cried the tears I couldn’t allow myself.
“This is my son,” I told the woman. “This is my son, Declan.”
“He told me he was looking for his daddy. I thought we’d head this way…”
“Thank you. Thank you so much.”
For not being crazy.
For being one of the good people.
For not letting him go in the river.
For doing what I should have done. Keeping vigil.
It's losing the big battle. The most important one. The one we're all meant to fight.
So much for the scary part. The rest was bliss. More later.