It was a giggle. His giggle. Probably the most definitive moment between us this past year. For me at least, though I'm not sure for him. But that's fine.
We were driving down the parkway to a soccer game, Doug was tied up with something else that day and we'd offered to drive a teammate as well, so it was Caton, his friend, and me driving a big ass Jeep across the county.
Not our Jeep, it was a rental. Our car, an old base-model Civic, had been totaled the week before, the car taking the brunt of the crash while sparing Aster and I any injury. Rattled, yes (not to mention I was 7 months pregnant at the time), but injured, no. Exhale. Thank you, little car.
So while we shopped for a new car, we had a rental and our insurance said we could take anything on the lot. Caton asked for a Cadillac. "Why not go fancy while we can?" he asked. "Let's live a little, you can drop me off at soccer practice in a big honking Cadillac, how awesome would that be?"
I get it, little man.
So we got the biggest baddest car on the suburban lot, a giant black Jeep Sahara. I had to climb up into it and jump down out of it (literally not step, but jump, back down to the ground). Seven months pregnant, fun times. But they were.
So on this Saturday afternoon as we whizzed down the highway to the soccer game, the boys bantered back and forth about I don't remember what, Caton in the front seat and his teammate in the back. Not knowing the other boy very well, I tried to stay on the outskirts of the conversation.
The conversation wandered, I tiptoed in and out with a random comment here and there. Then Caton said something, and I answered something back, making some sort of joke, I honestly can't remember what it was.
And he giggled.
He turned back to his friend, who laughed a little as well. And the moment passed, as they all do.
But he giggled again. And he stopped.
A minute went by, then he looked at me, and I glanced at him and when our eyes met for that split second, he giggled again. A little more this time. God I wish I could remember what the joke was about.
As he giggled, I felt this unexpected warmth fill my chest, that silky soft feeling of delight bubbling up and in and out, all around, wandering bubbles of warmth. A smile cracked across my lips; I was smiling to myself and no one else this time.
I'd made him giggle. In front of his teammate no less. My soccer-playing, taller-than-me-by-a-lot, stronger-than-me-by-even-more, playing-it-cool-with-his-friends, teenage boy giggled with me in the rented big ass Jeep late that Saturday afternoon. He giggled.
Today he turns 15 years old. And now I don't reflect on his birth or his toddlerhood or even how he's grown over the years. Now it's all about that giggle just a few months ago.
Happy birthday, little man. You'll always be my best boy.