Did I love it enough?*

No matter how we try, can we savor a moment as much as we should?

A young man and his mother in black raincoats, stand in front of a waterfall with their mouths open to catch snowflakes on their tongues

Did I love it enough?

Those three quick days with our son, popping into his life for a weekend, then back out. Arriving on his doorstep straight from the airport, feeling the moment it takes to reinhabit our connection, then the swoosh that wraps us up like a swaddle in our mother-father-child circle.

His hug, for me, is what resets it. It says more than a love poem. It feels like storing up for winter.

Did I love it enough?

The stepping into his living room from outside, wiping the already wet and leaf-sogged bottoms of my shoes on the small rectangle of cloth at his door. These Oregon trips are always waterlogged. A quick exchange of hellos with his Cherub-faced friend, another mother’s baby graduating from college this year, then the three of us go off to dinner, our route drawn by Google maps to a restaurant we have never been to.

“Are your synapses firing, Mom?”

He’s teasing me about a rant where I said I want to do new things and go new places because it makes our time feel longer (or so said some TV show that I told my family about, which he will not let me forget). Tomorrow we will leave his college town for a new adventure an hour away, two nights with our boy in a cottage on the McKenzie River. But did I love it enough, these familiar streets, his favorite sports bar, playing pool with his friends?

The next day, Christopher drives and I soak in the views from the passenger seat. The full rushing river. The steady rain. Forests of Douglas fir. Colors of fall, specifically northwest beautiful — more yellows than browns — so different than the desert beaches of our southern California autumn.

Closer to our destination, the trees wear char marks from last season’s fires. Some are blackened halfway up, yet recover and yield to green at their tops. Others end in shards scraping middle sky. Oregon fires have become a season to themselves, prompting me to check my Weather App for air advisories. When the fires came again last month and my son’s town’s air filled with smoke, I asked if he needed an air purifier and N-95 masks.

“You sent them last year.” (Unspoken, perhaps: they’re still in their boxes.)

Beneath my conscious awareness, but in my bones, is the memory of another drive with just the three of us, headed to the ER near midnight because our son’s breath scraped his lungs and he might not be getting enough. When he fell asleep next to me in the backseat and his breathing eased, we turned around; the ER seemed worse than guarding him through the night, listening for the tightness again. The next day the pediatrician gave us an inhaler and said, as his body grows so will his airways, and this proved to be true.

The rains have washed the air; it smells like life. We walk along a trail it took us three tries to find, then retreat inside to get dry, gaze at the river, read books, and — here’s the most important thing — watch college football. He takes a break to do some work, and we watch the river go by and talk about where to have dinner.

The guy at the diner in the Astros shirt shows us a photo on his phone of a waterfall twenty-six miles away. “This one is visible from the highway. There’s another waterfall, but you have to hike two miles to see it.” And because our son wants to see a waterfall, and also wants his Sunday watching ESPN Redzone on his couch, and because I see how much he works — writing, interviewing, editing, and publishing — I want that for him, too. A waterfall from the road will be plenty.

The snow surprises us as we get closer to the falls. We had not noticed the elevation gain or the temperature drop. There is a small parking lot and a well-marked sign. We step out in too-light rain jackets and follow a steep, slick path.

You might watch a waterfall forever and not be able to decide which is more powerful — the sound or the sight. A million gallons of energy pour, spilling, endless, relentless, backsplashing against the river it is part of. Snowflakes fill the air, thick and fuzzy, and accumulate on the trees. I understand why we say “take your breath away” and that something beautiful is “stunning.” .

“Woooow! This is crazy!” My son’s awe sends a tickle down my neck.

“My synapses, Aaron!”

He tips his head back and sticks out his tongue to catch slushy snowflakes in his mouth, and I think, that is the best idea anyone has ever had and do the same. I see the sky above, the trees tilting toward it, and dancing melting dreamflakes landing on my face and tongue. The waterfall behind us never thinks of slowing down.

Before we go, one of us says, or maybe we both do, “I love that when we go home, this is still here, still happening.”

Did I love it enough, these days with my son? Soaking up time together. Building a fire. Playing Catan. Talking about what keeps him awake at night. Falling asleep to the sound of the river rushing by.

Can you ever love it all enough?

[*After the poem “November” by Maggie Dietz]

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is working on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

If you would like another way to support my writing, follow me on Medium.

3 thoughts on “Did I love it enough?*

  1. Interesting concept……triggering a lot of thought….. Thank you for sharing💕💕💕

    Sent from my iPad


  2. With the experience of my yearly visits to Israel to be with my family this blog had a special effect on me. Thanks

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