I woke to a dream where I was on the street in twilight.
With my little child. A son or a daughter, perhaps.
The sky was losing light.
The day had been long.
It was much too late to be out with such a baby – it was time to be home.
But this one had their arms up in the air and was crying, “book, book”.
We were outside the library. Its doors closed to the day.
“Book, book”. They cried.
There was the memory and allure of story time – a part of a perfect morning when pages could be explored and stories could be heard. Our ritual.
We would go home with a bag full of books which we would read over and over again.
A place to go to hear something new or something they knew.
No, darling, I said. The library is closed.
I gathered that baby in my arms, crying, “now what?”
Home, I said.
Home of course.
Home, of course, is always a place to go when it is twilight and the day has been long and there can be someone to gather you in their arms.
I don’t remember how we got home. I remember the length of the day and the feel of the tired baby. I remember drawing the bath and the smell of the soap on their little head.
Those baths always made the children calm – their eyes heavy and sweet.
Now out of the bath – wrapped in a towel like a burrito. I remember the feel of the small soft pajamas as I gathered us together on the bed. I had found a book and we opened it together.
Page by page we shared the book, one or the other of us pointed at this page or that.
Until it was time for a blanket and a prayer and a lullaby and a kiss.
And a tiptoe out.
My children have grown considerably and no longer wear little soft pajamas.
Some of them live in towns far away.
They no longer raise their arms to be to be carried, to be held: “up, up”.
They have their own morning rituals and things that they do when the days are too long.
And now, after a visit, I am leaving one son’s city tomorrow.
I wonder if he will remember the books and the baths, the soap and the days.
And how many years will pass until they no longer recall the gathering and the safety of the burrito.