The moment might have lasted ten minutes. Maybe twenty. Objectively, it was a fairly mundane scene: A mom, a dad, their two sons and a sleepy young dog, squished together on a bed as the humans snickered at a TV show.
Subjectively it was a rare, spontaneous intergalactic planetary alignment. The family I’m describing was mine a few weeks back.
Lately, even during semester breaks, it’s becoming unusual to find both sons checking into the mothership at the same time. Between study abroad programs, pop-up classes, out-of-town internships, work projects and travel, the spans of togetherness we enjoyed in the early college years are evaporating.
These narrowing windows of our time together usually begin with sudden announcements.
“The company will provide housing for interns…”
“There’s this awesome program in Spain…”
“I got a ride to Chicago…where’s my old Boy Scout sleeping bag?”
“I’m paying rent over the summer anyway. May as well stay here and take classes…”
“I bought a ring…”
But that one Saturday night, after I unloaded the dishwasher, joked around and soaked in the lively baritone cacophony of my three fellas, my eyelids got heavy. I ambled upstairs with the goal of turning in. I switched on the bedroom TV for comedy, and flopped onto my king-size escape pod. Just for a few minutes. To wind down before eventual shut-eye.
Then one by one, the other souls in my house filtered into the room. I guess they heard my laughter. Our eldest son’s pup, The Sheriff, instinctively hopped on the bed with the rest of us. He wedged himself between me and my firstborn, who is one of his two top humans. The other is our oldest son’s brand new beautiful-in-every-way fiancée.
Despite our loud guffaws at the pixels before us, doggie began snoring almost instantly. He even appeared to be smiling—a rare relaxation mode for this exuberant creature.
I think the pup knew what I knew. He was with his pack.
I looked at all of us, plopped on the duvet, tightly crowded together like Nutter Butters in a cookie sleeve. I said something along the lines of, “Guys, this is the best. This is it.”
Then a few minutes later, I was saying things like, “Look at us! We’re all here! We’re laughing! It’s winter, and we are cozy!”
I blurted a few more similar comments. It seems I’m obsessed with coziness, peace and laughter. My gang nodded in agreement. Maybe there were eye rolls or shrugs which would have translated to, “Okay, we get it. Geez. Watch the show.” Even so, I felt my guys knew.
We are always us.
The moment didn’t last long enough. Yet I was okay with that. Our wolf pack profile is best described as four tall, restless people and a wacky dog that can barely fit together on a large bed. One of us shifted and the domino effect of discomfort hit us all. Arms were falling asleep. Necks threatened to stiffen. Throw pillows suddenly became too dainty. We couldn’t watch the whole show that way.
The boys have really grown up these last few years. A sweet daughter-in-law will be joining our pack. I’m looking ahead, and all of this is cool. Here’s to our roomy sectional sofa and oversized ottoman.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @DeniseSnodell.