I took the week between Christmas and New Years off this year, which is a first. It's been a wonderful time, especially with you so little and so tuned into the magic of the season.
After we spent some time down by the creek today, we were walking our way back up the steep hill. Your little legs quickly tired out and you asked to be carried. I couldn't accommodate considering the mud caked onto your crocs and the items I was already carrying. But I gave you the same manta I often tell myself on the way back up the hill dragging a load of yard waste behind me when I feel like I can't take another step.
"Mommy can't pick you up right now, but let's just keep walking to the smiling tree right there." I told you.
You seemed content with that and kept on step by step until we made our way to the almost redwood sized tree that sprouts out of the forest bed and towers high above our house. A few years back, as your dad and I hacked our way back through the vines and weeds to gain access to the creek below, we took some odds and ends pieces of wood and nailed them to the huge tree trunk in the shape of a smiley face. It's been a halfway resting point between the house and creek ever since. When our dog, Jake, passed we decided the smiling tree was a fitting place to lay him for eternity.
I mentioned how I wanted to put a bench to mark the spot, since it always seemed we stopped right there to catch our breath and visit Jake's grave.
"Do you remember Jake, the big white doggy?" I asked.
"Yes," you confirmed in your high pitched voice I wish I could bottle up forever. "Where Jake go?" you asked looking around.
"He's under the ground now, but we can still say hi to him here whenever you want." I attempted to explain without getting into the morbid subject of death.
"Here mommy, hold stick," you ordered and I obliged taking your walking stick from you to free up both your hands.
"What are you doing?"
"I find Jake!" you squealed with determination as you kicked fallen leaves out of the way to reveal the puppy you thought was hiding beneath.
Oh North, I wish it was that easy.