The sounds of children laughing have slowly begun to evaporate from the halls of my sisters house, along with the refrain of “ABC” recited perfectly by my two year old niece, which still lingers like butterscotch in my head. The best present I could have received this past year, was the week after Christmas I spent with my nine year old nephew his baby sister, on the family farm. Amidst a year full of crisis that nothing short of a Russian novel, it brought me back to a place of quiet resolution that I had been searching for.
It was the last day of the year, and slightly damp smell of snow was in the air for the rural South, where my family resides unlike all the other Italian and Jews from New York, they ended up on a farm in Georgia. We walked over soft pine needles fallen around the lake, as Anthony skipped along the path leading closest to the water edge. Suddenly, I watched his eyes light up as we discovered several fallen branches that made a private hideaway overlooking the water, and he screamed "Let's build a fort!".
Anthony dug out several small patches of moss and placed it on the ground for us to sit on, creating seat cushions that looked out onto the lake . I became the hunter/gatherer, collecting fallen sticks that became the walls, as he re-arranged various length branches with the precise acumen of an engineer to surround us, instructing me where to put each one. Anthony would run up excitedly dragging a handful of dead trees to show me, which we used to build up the "walls" around us, as our fortress took shape.
When we finished an hour later, it was a moment of perfection looking out onto the lake with him beside me, on our thrones of moss and sticks. We promised to go back down to the fort when he returned that summer and walking home exhausted and hungry, I realized this was my “moment” with him - one the both of us will not forget, as Anthony moved to China at the end of that week, taking along the laughter and "ABC's" that made my life so full for that week.
I’ll run past the fort by the edge of the lake in the Spring, and think of Anthony on our perfect day together, knowing he will take that memory with him to China and will hopefully remember forever. You don’t stop loving someone just because they move to the other side of the world, or even if they are on the other side of town, for that matter. So I will be waiting for more stolen moments to show up down the road to revive my spirit, and remind me just how precious these moments in life life really are - Life Affirming.