Certain favorite bloggers of mine have taken up the assignment of blogging 31 days in a row (#write31days), and in an attempt to re-galvanize my own writing, I decided to join in the fun. The idea behind this particular blog-a-thon is to be as real and vulnerable as possible, which is (almost) always a healthy exercise. I've tried blogging marathons in the past (to varying degrees of success), and my seminary schedule does not allow for much flexibility. so the process may be fitful or short-lived, but it couldn't hurt to try!
Day 30: Baldwin the Bear Part 5
The cub finished his drink, and only then turned his head toward his father, as if by accident rather than in response. “Papa?”
Papa tried to compose himself, to settle his breathing. He was desperate now, as with each lumbering stride down the hill he had grown more and more anxious. For no particular reason he felt he could no longer hold off from having a frank conversation with his son.
He chafed against the idea. It was not how his own papa had handled these things, although in truth there were no such things to handle. He had been a model cub, taking to hunting and fishing quicker than any anyone in his corner of the forest. But even when he had erred, by wandering too far off during a family walk or getting into a scrap with another cub, his papa merely swatted him across his face. No larger fuss was made about it, and young Papa never made the same mistake twice.
But Papa had come to realize, all at once as he made the trek down the hill, that he would have to be a different kind of papa to young Baldwin. And he was nervous. And it showed, by his quivering paws and furrowed brow. But Baldwin just stared back, not vacantly but with a certain obtusity.
Papa stepped over to his son, to his only cub, and slumped down beside him. Baldwin followed suit, sat in just the same position beside his papa. They looked out to the stream and sat in silence for a moment.
“I need to…” Papa took a labored gulp, “talk to you about something Baldwin.”
“About what Papa?”
“About how I don’t… know how to talk to you. You do know you’re…. different, right Baldwin?”
“Yeah that’s what the other cubs say. They say I’m different. They laugh at me Papa. They laugh and I don’t understand it. I guess I do know I’m different though.”
As Papa prepared his next bit of speech, the silence hung heavy between them, until Baldwin added, “I’m sorry Papa. I’m sorry I’m not like the other cubs.”
“You don’t have to be Baldwin. I’m not mad.”
“But you do wish it was different, huh Papa? You thought I’d be different. Or… less different.”
Papa lost his breath again. He had never considered Baldwin might have clued into his frustration. After all, Baldwin always seemed so detached. A wave of shame washed over the sad old boar. How could he have let his own son notice his disappointment? And how could he reassure Baldwin he did not regret which son the stars had given him? He opened his mouth, just barely, and let out a long sigh.
“It’s ok Papa,” Baldwin rested his head gently against his papa’s arm. “We’re ok.”
“We are ok, son.”
The two sat in silence, then, for a long time. The sun, meanwhile, crept up higher into the sky, and the morning’s crispness faded into an unseasonably warm autumn day. Mama came out once to check on her boys, but upon seeing them side-by-side returned to their cave. While she went about the day’s business she whispered wishes, quietly begging the stars for harmony in her home.
It came to Papa, finally, to ask his son something he himself had never been asked. And after all their time spent seated together, Papa was no longer afraid to speak to his son. “What do you want, son?”
Baldwin looked up at Papa, his face suddenly shining. “You know what Papa?”
Baldwin extended a claw, pointing his paw toward the sky. “I wanna go visit them.”
“You can’t see them now Papa. But during sleeptime. I wanna visit my friends up there.”
“You mean the stars?”
Papa was stopped up again. He could feel his cub slipping through his claws. He was losing him. He had to play along.
“How would you do that, son?”
“I don’t know Papa. But I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna go up there and meet all my friends. That’s what I want.”
Papa sighed. And he waited for a moment. And he made a decision. A small one, but an important one.
“If that’s what you want, Baldwin.”
“It’s what I want Papa. I’m gonna meet the stars.”