Sunday, September 9, 2007

From Japan with Love

Our son loves Moyo. She’s his best friend. Over the past five months they’ve been inseparable. I was there each weekday morning to witness her arrival and each time she rang our doorbell I was reminded of our good fortune.

Immediately on hearing the chimes, our lad literally dropped whatever was at hand and lunged in the general direction of the front door. Whether he was strapped into his high chair, or snuggled up reading, his drive was to get close to Moyo as quickly as possible. All the while he would repeatedly shout out her name in a cadence that unmistakably said – and so much more eloquently than mere words – “we’ll have great fun again today Moyo”.

If Noah-David happened to be on the main level of the house and he saw Moyo’s face appear at the door, the fun would get off to a rollicking start. Our young boy would propel himself to the entrance and begin an energetic dance full of pirouettes and gyrations of happiness, his little body an animated exclamation mark of pure, unrestrained joy. As she walked through the door, the dance intensified and Noah would approach Moyo requesting one of his favourite activities.

One morning, shortly after arriving, Noah-David took Moyo’s hand and led her into the living room closing the door behind him. He was on a mission and I was curious to find out what was on his mind. As I gently pushed the door open, I felt resistance from the other side and heard Noah’s tiny voice exclaiming ‘no’ as he emphatically closed the door. This sharing moment was between friends and didn’t require a Dad on the journey.

In the five months that Moyo came to our house, there were only tears on three occasions as I left for work. Our standard adieu shtick consisted of an enthusiastic send-off with waves and blown kisses whose real subtext was, “thanks Papa I was despairing of ever having Moyo all to myself”.

What a great feeling at the outset of the day’s adventures to know with certainty that your child is playing happily - learning, loving and being loved. That’s the nub of it all, what Moyo embodied was much more than childcare. She gave herself totally and unreservedly to our boy. She shared her enthusiasm for hopping, jumping, bubble blowing, drawing, reading, walking, making believe and so much more.

On a recent morning as I prepared to leave, Noah-David and Moyo were crouched in the living room, two friends lost in the wonders of modeling clay. Noah-David was rolling roundness in the palms of his little hands. Tiny orbs were populating the floor for no discernible purpose. It was tactile creation, texture, shapes, colours, and fun. It was the becoming of a new world under the direction of quick, smiling eyes.

For Noah-David the five months with Moyo represented nearly one-quarter of his life. As August came to an end so too did our time together. Our Japanese friend left Halifax last week. She is continuing her travels en route to Belfast, Dublin, London, Paris and Amsterdam before returning home to Hyogo prefecture on Japan’s west coast.

Late one evening while preparing Moyo a small gift – a movie of her adventures together with Noah-David punctuated with still photos - I was struck again by how present this young woman had been for our son, how much there and in the moment. Several times as I was editing, reviewing clips and inserting favourite music, I was overcome by tears. I cried in happiness for each magic moment they shared. I wept to mark the passing of a formidable love.

That night it was hard to believe that there would be no more rainbow flotillas of chalk drawing boats on our driveway, our fences, our deck, or our front steps to greet us as we arrived home. We will make sure this playful tradition lives on. The mighty armada, with the S.S. Noah and the S.S. Moyo as the proud flagships, will continue its adventures on Young Street’s calm seas.

On our last day, Moyo presented us with a beautiful parting gift, an album of photos starring Noah-David. It was a tough afternoon, difficult for the adults to say goodbye. Noah’s intuition told him something was amiss and he was unsettled. Dropping Moyo off at her house on Pepperell St., there were tears all around. It was our last chance to say thanks one more time in person. It was hard to let go.

As Moyo flew east to Europe, we flew west to Québec for a few days. Our destination was chez les grandparents in Sorel. Tante Danielle’s horses, walks along the river, dancing with Grandmaman and Tante Stéphanie, kicky-ball with Grandpapa and fun and games with la petite cousine, Maxime kept Moyo’s absence at bay.

We’re into a new week now and it’s no longer quite the same relaxed, languorous, carefree start to the day in familiar home surroundings. Noah-David is off to day care. Two weeks prior to her departure Moyo helped with this transition. She was so proud to see how her little friend was adapting to and embracing this new experience.

It’s been a great run for all of us. Thank you for everything Moyo. We love you.

No comments: