Declan, soaking wet, runs through the spouting jets of the fountain. His wild and tender innocence ignites a place inside me grown dry and sere, that he lights with his joy. It burns in my breast, brighter than the firecrackers we lit as kids. I’m so many years away from how it feels to be that alive, racing with joy into each unfolding moment and the next and the next, into the center of my own fire.
The audience laughs and hoots but not from ridicule. Declan’s spontaneous play has reached inside where their young children still live and all of us are transported back in time. Can my heart hold all the love I feel for him? Will it break from joy and catapult me somewhere more real, more honest, where I say, “yes, this is where I want to be?” I want to be drunk on this love forever. I want to grab the world and bring it inside. I want to believe all of it is fine: the good, the bad, and what seems ugly. Can I go back that far, before I got taught what the world was? Will this beautiful young boy gradually be tamed and the only memory I have will be the video I took of him racing from one jet of spewing water to another in an impromptu dance of life? I want to play like that again—no filters between me and the moment, like a fuse that burns endlessly—no holding on.
When it’s time to go, he’s shivering but doesn’t want to leave. We pull him away. Enough, you are wet and it is dark and it is time to go home. He could run and squeal with delight until he drops. I love this little boy with all the love I was afraid I hadn’t given to my own son. In this way I am healed. In this way some huge shift has already grabbed me and refuses to let go. I am his Grandma GiGi.