In later years, I hope you will have memories of warm autumn afternoons under halcyon blue skies, spent in our garden, simply enjoying all that God has created. Halcyon. What does that even mean? Peaceful, gentle, calm. Happy and carefree. All that I hope your childhood will be. The English language has so many words of subtle difference in meaning that allow us to express so many shades of an experience. And I wonder what you would express…if you could.
I sat with you in the sandpit, fingering the sand while you moved diggers and dump trucks and used a bucket and spade to create a quarry, accompanied by the sound effects that only four year old boys can make. I looked up at our Bottlebrush tree, the bright red flowers and deep green foliage standing out against the blue of the sky. Soon a flock of rainbow lorikeets arrived, chattering excitedly as they fed on the nectar of the bright blooms. I pointed out the ‘rainbow birds’ to you, their colours and how they got their food from the flowers. You can’t ask ‘Why?’ yet, so I try to guess what you would ask if you could.
You were entranced by the beautiful birds with their feathers of green, red, blue and yellow. Jumping up and down, you waved your arms in wide circles to tell me that you wanted to be picked up and put in the tree to be closer to them. I explained that this would scare them and they would fly away. The best way to see them would be to crouch quietly by the tree and just watch. I went inside, leaving you to play. Cheeky boy! You didn’t follow my instructions.
Soon you came in side, visibly upset. Usually a game of ’20 Questions’ follows as I try to work out what has happened. Yet this day, you said,
”Bird….wings (making flying movements with your hands). Fly…away.”
A simple, yet breath-taking moment. You communicated, for the first time, an experience that I had not been on hand to witness. I understood without needing to ask further questions to clarify. The rainbow lorikeets had flown away and you were upset about this.
I don’t believe anybody outside our family would have caught the words. But I did. Spending more time with you than anybody else, has made me attuned to your way of communicating. I intimately know your speech patterns at any point in time. Without words, I’ve had to tune into your moods, tone and expression, gestures and demeanour. In many ways, I realise I am still your interpreter, deciphering those imperfect, yet precious words of yours for other people. You understand so much, but are still unable to put most of your thoughts into words. Little by little, your brain is learning how to send signals to your mouth muscles to form speech. The thoughts held prisoner in your head for so long are starting to be set free and take flight, much like the rainbow lorikeets. I’m looking forward to discovering more of the beauty that is you, Noah. In the meantime, I’ll hang onto this precious bond we share – learning a language that doesn’t need words.
I love you, buddy! Here’s to many more afternoons spent under those halcyon skies…blue skies…or as you would say,”Boo ky”.