Pete sends me a link to the photos of his afternoon with Teddy on the front lawn of Pittock Mansion. My son loves volcanoes and his father wanted to introduce him to the slumbering one in Mt. Saint Helens which features prominently from this pinnacle of visibility.
In one photo, my son sits on a bench, arms outstretched to the steep view of our city. My heart plunks as my mind watermarks his image with another image: Pete and me on our second date, seated on that bench, a picnic unpacked around us, our faces flushed with the day’s last light.
Spring was forcing itself along with bulbs through the hard memory of winter then, and the city was covered in a snow of blown petals. Our love discovered and anchored in this contradiction.
I let the photo of my son on that bench enter my heart as tears start spilling. He was there with us then, even before our first kiss, and he will be with one or the other of us from now on, one parent taking the photos, the other experiencing an entire afternoon secondhand.
I send Pete a text: “He’s sitting where we sat.”
Pete knows exactly what I mean. He texts back: “Life is layering. Petals, snow, volcanoes, ash and a little boy reaching for the sky.”
I hold the bright little phone in which my co-parent’s brief messages populate in green thought bubbles.
I think: That’s how I would have said it.
I think: This is why I married this man.