All the Magic Years, I finally noticed.
“Peter, look at this … Peter, can you please help me check my video? Do I look a little pink? Hey, Peter. Peter? Peter!”
He’s crying again. Head in his hands. Oy vey. My husband is not an easy crier. But this is a song about Nick and Joe growing up. Oh — that’s it.
“Pete? Are you okay?” He tells me he misses the boys’ childhood. I ask what part of it? We laugh. “All of it,” he says.
When he cries at this song, I feel proud. The song is doing what good songs are supposed to do.
I also know this song is about a year, 2004, when we lost an extra dose of innocence.
All those times standing in the bleachers when your kid isn’t being played, driving to speech tournaments where he may or may not get to semifinals. Big-term projects that won’t make due date. College applications that won’t get done. But they do. The whole bumpy road still reaches its destination.
And through it all, your run-of-the-mill body gets alarmingly older. For awhile, you feel like you’re actually suffering.
Then, when your oldest is a senior in high school, you get a funky mammogram. The doctor’s message on your voice mail is not “Hey, everything’s fine!” but instead, ”Tina, please call me back as soon as you get this.”
You hear “cancer” and everything — every year, every moment — is cast in a different light. You realize your life in all its mundane absurdity is a big fat miracle. Our innocence up and leaves us in the cold electron flash of a telephone call.
“Magic Year” took shape as we watched our sons’ childhood shift into early-stage adulthood, and as we dealt with that fateful message.
What a year of whiplash. But also a year when I stopped to take the long view.
So now, Peter weeps whenever I even play the first notes of this song. The boys are fine. But they are not at home; they are not little, or playing high school football, or needing a ride to the Speech tournament.
And I am so glad we sat down to supper at 6 every night for 20 years. No matter how many pages Peter needed to send in to his editor the next day, or where and when my gigs were that week. No matter how much homework needed to be done. We would linger at the table after supper, and talk about our days.
Our children remind us, as they constantly walk out of one stage and into the next — these are all Magic Years. This year, most evenings, there are just two of us at the table. With our lost innocence and our found magic.