Jackson gets a lot of attention when we’re out because he’s a baby and people really like that about him. He’s too young to act like friendly people are weird or stupid. If you talk to him, he’ll smile at you. There’s no eye-rolling or snotty who-are-you or I-haven’t-got-the-time faces. Just a simple exchange – a smile for a smile. So, when I was bagging some groceries at Aldi today, I didn’t think much of it when a white-haired woman came to get a closer look in the car seat perched on top of my cart.
“Oh, what a sweet boy,” she said.
I glanced over my shoulder at her and smiled, “He is.” Jackson was smiling at her, too.
“Oh,” she sighed, leaning in.
I turned toward her to lift my bags into the cart as she reached out her hand and Jack grabbed her finger.
“Oh,” she clapped her free hand to her mouth. My boy held tight to her and she bounced her hand gently. He giggled at the game. Tears slipped from her eyes and filled the wrinkles around them. “Why do we have to get so old before we really appreciate them?”
She seemed to be talking more to herself than to me. I felt heavy as she lingered there. I should have hugged her. Instead, I waited and watched her as she walked away – all the way to her car – and then I went to mine. I tucked my groceries and my baby into the car, took my seat behind the wheel and paused to replay what had just happened in my mind. I wondered about the baby she saw when she looked at my boy.
I just should have hugged her.