I don’t know when it is.
Maybe it’s when the wind hits my face as Josh’s stepmom’s boat, Conundrum, cuts the water on Chickamauga Lake. Or when a line of geese cut through the water too, quiet, graceful. When the sun burns our squinted eyes and bathing-suit shoulders. Michael Jackson starts singing “PYT,” and I can’t help myself, I get up and dance.
The Chardonnay seems to pour itself into glasses, and we talk serious talk, and we laugh. And when the heat is too much, we jump in the lake and float on our backs until the sun sinks red in the sky and dies.
Maybe it’s when we look at our nephew, eleven months and not a baby anymore. He looks at everything as if it is shrouded in mystery: a sweet potato fry, the cat, DVD cases pulled from the cabinet, a goldfish cracker.
He beams big after peek-a-boo, and laughs when we laugh, his seven teeth on display. He occasionally performs on demand. “How big are you?” his Grammy prompts, and he thrusts his hands above his head. “This big!” we add. He has his mama’s ability to raise just one eyebrow.
Maybe it’s when we gather around a table. And for a while, there is nothing more in the world than a good green bean, a good roasted carrot, a good piece of prime rib. The food disappears, and we drive through the dark to Josh’s sister’s house. The Chardonnay flows again, and there are games and giggled accusations of cheating. When it gets too loud, we shush each other not to wake the baby. No one remembers or even thinks to take a picture.
I can’t remember when. In one of these times or ten of these times or maybe all of them, all of them added together, the tears well up in my eyes, and I breathe deep.
And I remember what I forgot for so long: I am alive.