Between soccer games, we all ended up in the kitchen. With a bottle of water in one hand, I leaned against the countertop, watching as my husband ate a “Muffeletta” sandwich we’d bought yesterday from The Italian Store in Arlington, Virginia.
Our middle child, Travis James Farris, Jr., or “Jim,” sat facing my husband. “Dad, when I write ‘Junior’ after my name, it makes me proud to have your name.” Jim’s voice, still high pitched, echoed against the red walls in our kitchen, and I smiled.
Before I could say anything, my husband set his Muffeletta down and wiped his hands on his paper towel. “Well, son, I’m very proud to share my name with such a great kid. I don’t think I’ve told you today just how awesome you are.”
I glanced at Travis, who was once again grasping his “manwich,” and nodded at the clock. He sighed; I sighed; and we started to check shin pads, cleats, water bottles and soccer balls. Fifteen arguments, three Facebook status updates, four missed calls and an entire box of obliterated Munchkin donuts later, I sat in my husband’s big, striped fabric chair in the kitchen, typing up some research notes about angels on my silver Macbook Pro. My youngest child whizzed around me, and we played our “I love you game.”
I started. “I love you more than all the leaves in the backyard.”
Ben’e eyes lit up as I spoke. Before I finished, he danced in front of me. “I love you more than all the trees in America.”
“Sun, moon, stars.”
He grinned, all dimples showing, and yelled, “Mom I love you more than anything, even God.”
I smiled back at him, and put a hand on his shoulder. “Not more than God. You must love Him most.” I paused mid-negotiation long enough to mix a smile into my sober response. “How about except God?”
“Oh, okay, except God.” He hopped around again. “And I won’t let anyone hurt you.” My six-year old, 48-pound boy grinned at me while he sipped his Slurpee. “And if anyone tries to hurt you, I will protect you. If someone comes at you with a knife, I will hit them, or cut their head off!”
“Um . . .”
Ben jumped up and added, “Look at the picture I drew for you, Mom! It has pink hearts on it, and me, and you.”
I glanced over at the drawing of two blue-colored people holding hands on a scrap of wrinkled white paper. Admittedly, I was a little relieved to see that there were no weapons mixed in with the pink hearts that circled the blue-colored sketch of mother and son. I knew, just as my husband knew–just as my entire family knows–what it means to feel loved, and my soul rang out with laughter and with light.