We'd play the game often, my kids and I, on lazy afternoons. Late in the day, we'd lie on the carpet, heads on bellies, arms splayed out, waiting for my husband's key to jiggle in the lock.
"I'm going to grandma's house, and in my suitcase I pack an Apple, a Bluebird, a Chimpanzee, a Dollar..." and on and on, toes wiggling, giggles erupting when one of us would forget that G was for Grasshopper or L was for Lollipop. We'd fill our imaginary suitcase with animals, food, this, that -- it didn't matter what went inside. What mattered was that we were together, completely relaxed, save for those moments when Simon the pug would circle our heads, step on our faces, and settle into that spot where our three bodies locked together.
Now, today, that imaginary suitcase is a basket. And I want to fill it more thoughtfully. Simon's long gone. There's less carpet-lolling. And while Colin's key still jiggles in the lock, we're generally at the table when he walks in the door.
Hey, guys. How was everyone's day?
People all around me need love, care, and attention. Several struggle with pain, bed rest, cancer, dementia. I want to fill their suitcases. Not with just anything, heaped in willy-nilly, Apple, Bluebird, Chimpanzee, Dollar... But with beautiful, comforting foods, objects, poems, and stories. I want to write them letters, call their phones, bake them pastries, hold their hands.
I don't do this, though. Often, I just don't know how.
If only I could deliver them a rainbow, and nudge them slowly over its huge, towering arc. I'd set a basket at its base.
So when they're done with their trials, tribulations, treatments, and suffering, they'll slide gently down, landing in that basket of soft feathers, sweet laughter, and bright, swirling, vivid color.