Guess what? It’s Tomorrow.
4 little kids loiter just outside Mom and Dad’s bedroom door early Saturday morning. We can’t just barge in, we’d get in trouble, so this is the best and only option. It’s a practiced and refined technique: whispering as loudly as possible our voices carry past the fan, annoying our parents awake. Finally, we hear the stirring. Knobby knees, stiff gait resulting from the drive home from NYC, feet landing hard on the wood floor – an unhurried measure of walking we recognize from hearing alone. It’s Dad (thankfully, if it had been Mom, we’d have to scurry fast into the cracks of the house). Dad emerges – his hair in sleepy silver meringue peaks, eyes gaunt with exhaustion but with a smile big and bright. He greets us by scooping us in close, so fast we fall into him for a tight, powerful hug.
“Dad, what day is it?!” He consults his watch to find out. He dons his best surprised face and looks at us. Then, a double take to his watch, “Holy Moly!”. “What!!”, little jumping beans can’t stand the suspense, “WHAT!”. Dad, obviously dumbfounded, “I can’t believe it: it’s TOMORROW!”. Our agape mouths try to catch the mighty weight of this news. Did we hear him right? We ask, “It’s tomorrow?”. “That’s what my watch says!”, he shows us his watch, we look for confirmation. “Well,” says Dad with authority, “we better not dilly dally. Who knows when it’ll be here again!”. He grabs us by the hands and silly walks us into the kitchen. “De dum de dum de dum – by golly, tomorrow! I did say I would be home tomorrow, and what do you know? Here I am! My goodness, we got a lot to do today.”
He only knows how to cook two things, and he makes those two things better than anyone – even better than Mom; scrambled eggs and peanut butter on toast sandwiches. Being morning, he gets to making scrambled eggs. We crack the eggs into Nana’s ceramic bowl, the one with the little chip on the rim. Only a few shell fragments make it in. We see them settling to the bottom of the bowl. Dad’s special egg whisking style involves his whole body and a 3-pronged fork – bowl tucked under his left arm, right arm blurs like a helicopter blade, fork frothing up eggs and milk. A whole stick of butter into the pan to sizzle the eggs, English Muffins covered by a hint of Mom’s blueberry jam over a thick butter base. Dad makes juice from mixing the contents of a frozen can with water (he uses less water than Mom to make his juice, producing a sticky, thick, and syrupy treat). “Good thing we saved the juice for tomorrow!”, then he lets us have two cups each. We all eat heartily, our little hands and cheeks shining constellations of crumbs glued with butter and jam.
Our tomorrow included all the normal activities of a regular today. But the sun shined brighter on our full day of playing (interrupted only by Dad’s special peanut butter on toast sandwiches, eaten outside at the picnic table!). The kitchen, a symphony of clicks and clangs of mom’s cooking, then a full supper with all of us plus the big kids (our brothers) at our family’s round table. Coloring books closed, time for bed and a story told to us by Dad – a story that started as all good stories should with “Once Upon a Time” – goodnight kisses and a firm tuck into bed. At that, Tomorrow magically settled into yesterday.
Tomorrow, as promised; the sun came out, cobwebs and sorrow shook off, and yet, it was only another today. A perfect today claimed and given to us by our silly dad. But he also left me with something else; an idea that’s been itching at the back of my brain this month (my birthday month). When does tomorrow arrive again?
Dad gave us, me, all the tomorrows – he showed me that today vs tomorrow is a mindset. Welcoming tomorrow makes today precious and special. Is it possible, at this age, when my adult brain regularly reasons away life’s magic, to take a tomorrow today? What would my tomorrow bring? What promises have I made myself? A visit to the art museum, finishing this newsletter, having a good cup of tea, cleaning the refrigerator, starting my feature documentary, learning to do that thing I’ve always wanted to do – all those things, or at least one of those things. The rest of the day I would spend loving the specialness of the sun (or the snow if it was to come), loving the arrival of the day like a holiday. I’d allow myself to feel “arrived” and settled. I’d rest. Maybe I’d make myself a peanut butter on toast sandwich, just like Dad used to make, with lots of butter.
What’s in your tomorrow? Maybe it’s time to take that tomorrow today.
Hoping the sun shines on all your tomorrows – whenever they come. May it be full of silly walks, delicious sandwiches and lots of love.
Heather & Wade