It’s about the small things, really. They all add up and before you know you’ve fallen, body and soul. It’s the flick of their head as their fringe falls in the way again, the way they use their hands, the shape of their mouth when they think, or suddenly grin and seem like the child you never knew them to be.
It’s the woodpigeons in the eaves and the creak of the radiators, rising and falling like the slowest of breaths through the pipework in a house you’ve missed for years.
It’s the trace of a childhood lisp in a voice you know and love, the way you can never remember a person’s voice without having to think specifically of something they’ve said.
It’s hills you know like the back of your hand falling into the contours you’ll always have etched into your retinas, and the way that boat is still moored to the middle of a pond you rarely see these days.
It’s the way that throw at home never ever seems rid of cathair, and the way that the small black cat you’ve loved for nine years now never appears to have a mouth, slips into the edges of rooms, and then hugs you unexpectedly.
It’s the most unrehearsedly beautiful smile on the face of a young woman looking up into the lens of a camera; and the exact same smile reflected in the face of the old man telling you all the things you never knew, prayers no-one ever heard – except, thank goodness, God, because it all worked out in the end and that young woman became a wife and mother, not a nun, and see that smile, how happy that made her.
It’s the massive grin on the face of your youngest cousin as you say, yes, of course you can have the last yorkshire pudding.
It’s how the houses of friends smell different from your home, and how catching the faint smell of a certain brand of floor-polish or pot-pourri or something can drop you right back in there and make you smile, wistfully, thinking of home or of years gone by and days spent happy in other houses.
It’s little moments, phrases or words you’ll remember forever without meaning to remember them, random snatches of a few seconds imprinted forever in your mind with perfect clarity.
It’s the first taste of plums, damsons, blackberries, each potato from the garden, the first early morning mist, the first frost, and the first day it begins to feel like Spring might actually happen this year when even yesterday you couldn’t quite believe it.
It’s birthday kisses at midnight, knowing there are people out there who treasure the memories you treasure too, and beautiful naive boys who know about the stars.
It’s loving the entire world, sometimes, dancing down the street and attracting curious glances and throwing out smiles so bright they probably bounce.
If this is the way my world adds up, then yes, I can hardly count my blessings. If, just sometimes, I can see it all like this, then life really does seem too short sometimes.