Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Kevin Finds Mousey
In literature for children words have power. If you speak the creature's full name, you will invoke it. It is one of the rules of the imagined universe. A mere utterance can bring untold misfortune, and can have consequences beyond the wildest imagining.
Do you remember when you believed that? If Rumpelstiltskin's name passed your lips, he would appear. If you knew the right spell when attending a school for magic, your enemies would be frozen in place, unable to hurt you, or they in turn could paralyze you.
Some of us lose that sense of wonderment as we grow older, the ability to invest in the fantastical. To extend our belief to that which exists beyond our proven reality. Others of us became science fiction and fantasy fans when we grow up, because sometimes belief in things far beyond our current reality is the very thing that helps us cope.
"Let me tell you about the time we went to Mackinac Island," my husband began, "they had the best fudge in the world there..."
My husband's childhood has always rather fascinated me. A large family is as strange and fantastic a concept to me as being able to wave a wand to conjure wealth, or a rub a bottle to bring forth a Genie. My own family is very small, as both of my parents were only children. This is not a recommended marriage dynamic, by the way. Two people used to being the center of their own world did not a good match make, but that's a tale for another time, or not at all.
We were sitting in a hospital room watching over my son following a bad fall on the ski slopes. In the long run he was fine, and that's all that really matters now. My husband was trying to distract me, and it was working. I listened to the tales of the adventure on Mackinac Island, seven kids on vacation with their parents as told through my husband's memory.
Kevin is now 6'6" inches tall, but to my husband he will always be the little brother. Kevin was four at the time and his most treasured possession was a stuffed animal named Mousey.
It was ten years ago that I first heard the story of carriage rides, and children scrambling all over an island in Michigan, safe and protected.
"Then what happened?" I asked.
"Well, then Kevin lost Mousey," My husband explained who and what Mousey was. "We searched everywhere. We were a task unit. No corner of that island went unsearched."
"We never did find him," he finished, but it had worked, I was distracted, my mind taken off the worrying thing at hand.
"You need a better ending to that, you know." But I was laughing.
When my husband hung up the phone the other day he didn't need to say anything. As we get older, we find out the truth: Sometimes you need not speak the creature's name to invoke it. Sometimes the creature is conjured regardless. There is no magic phrase to ward it off, and you can only do what you can do.
Late that night we were both lying awake, staring at the unchanging ceiling above. My husband couldn't sleep, and neither could I. I reached for something that had become a joke between us, when times were tough.
"Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Mackinac Island?" I asked.
"I think I know that one already."
There are stories common to simply being human, to having a life, and to loving people. The end of those stories is sometimes beyond our control, and we do the best we can. We try to be there for each other, in whatever small ways we can.
"No, you don't," I assured him, "in my version of the story, Kevin finds Mousey."