Unlike myself, my mother keeps everything. From her high school cheerleading outfit to drawings I made as a kid – she just holds on to stuff. One of the things that she held onto is a text book from when she attended Auburn University. It is titled One Hundred and One Famous Poems by Reilly & Lee. I remember getting this book off the shelf when I was a little kid and reading through the poems within. It is where I first read my favorite poem, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. Another poem in this book that I just fell intrigued with is Little Boy Blue by Eugene Field. It reads as follows:
The little toy dog is covered with dust, but sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust, and his musket moulds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new, and the soldier was passing fair,
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue kissed them and put them there.
“Now, don’t you go till I come,” he said, “And don’t you make any noise!”
So toddling off to his trundle-bed he dreamt of the pretty toys.
And as he was dreaming, an angel song awakened our Little Boy Blue –
Oh, the years are many, the years are long, but the little toy friends are true!
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand, each in the same old place,
Awaiting the touch of a little hand, the smile of a little face.
And they wonder, as waiting these long years through, in the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue since he kissed them and put them there.
How many times have we been like Little Boy Blue? How many times have we put the ones that we love on a shelf and walked away? I don’t think we mean to do it. We just find other things that take our time. And before we know it, our loved ones are anxiously awaiting our return, slowly becoming covered in dust. They wait and wait, slowly losing their purpose. Unlike the dutiful toys of Little Boy Blue, however many times those we leave do not wait. They do not stand in silence and patiently linger for us to finish our distractions and return to them.
Then there are the times that we are left. There is the initial moment of waiting for those who have left us to return. Then there is the understanding that they are not coming back. We go from living in the moment to re-living the moments that have past. We ponder and analyze every word, every laugh, every kiss and every embrace. We search for clues. We rummage around our memories and try to figure out if we should remain in waiting or if we should accept that they are gone. We remember the last kiss. We relish in the last embrace. What did we miss? What would we have done differently?
You can see him standing there in front of you. You have his face – every wrinkle, every speck of sunshine in his eyes – memorized, embedded in your mind. You study it seeking for an answer. But there is none. You are just there and they are not. Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue we stand, each in the same old place, awaiting the touch of his hand, the smile of his beautiful face. And we wonder, as waiting these long years through, in the dust of our little chair, what has become of our Little Boy Blue since he kissed us and put us here.