Spoiler Alert: this is another essay inspired by a childhood memory! I admit that I used that rare exclamation mark to whip up excitement, just in case you’re a reluctant memory-lane stroller. I have a friend who commented that, based on my writings, I must remember 100% of what happened to me during my early childhood. I didn’t have the heart to tell her: “That isn’t even the half of it, dear. I also vividly recall at least 50% of what never happened.”
My current fond memory is one that most of you probably share: riding solo on a carousel. Many of us first rode merry-go-rounds with a parent standing next to us to steady us when we were tots, and then we later rode them with friends. My happiest recollection is when I was riding on my own — but with my parents sitting close by on that bench which was invariably located in a prime spot to watch the excited kids.
The vintage carousel I remember riding when very young was in a huge beautiful city park, and the carousel itself was so gigantic that for maybe more than half a minute during each revolution my parents were out of my sight. What I remember that especially brought my little heart glee was spotting them each time they came into view and waving to them (with an arm I had bravely freed from my iron grip on the horse’s brass pole) and then seeing them wave back.
I used to think I loved that moment because I was the Star Rider waving to My Fans. But, no, now I realize that what I loved most was the fact that I could count on my mother and father always being there, sitting snuggled together and always acknowledging my wave. When the ride finished, I still remember my mother standing up from the bench and approaching me with a cheerful “I’m here!” Ah, such childhood security.
And that is why I was so moved by a specific televised image from Ukraine recently. After bombings in the capital Kyiv, there on camera was President Zelensky bravely standing in the street, asserting his overwhelming humanity and loyalty and authority with just two words — my mother’s — “I’m here!” That’s “Yah tood” in Ukrainian. And, as with my mother at the carousel, what Zelensky left unsaid was “I’m here — FOR YOU.”
Aren’t those two little words —“I’m here”— the most important ones we ever need to hear, first from our parents and later from our lovers/spouses? Actually, those far more famous three little words — “I love you” — are not quite as reassuring, are they? Yes, of course we want to hear that we’re loved. But “I’m here!” ultimately trumps “I love you!” because it represents such an affirming ACTION, not just a doting tenderness.
And that is why those of you who read my essays touched me deeply when you wrote how much it meant to you, during the pandemic, that you could count on my always being “here for you“ — well, in words anyway — faithfully every other Monday morning. I am hardly comparing what I do to what Zelensky is doing — I am as much like him in heroism as Winnie The Pooh is like Winnie The Churchill! Ha! Still, Darian and I are gratified that we have been able to provide my “voice” and stand with you during these two tumultuous years. (If you only knew how much work is entailed for Darian to proof and help revise and format and send my essays to you so reliably!) It’s been a great pleasure for both of us to provide these essays for you. Let me conclude by speaking for her and me in reminding all of you that, in Ukrainian, “Mi tood — WE are here!”