They're brothers, ages 10 and 7. They share a bedroom, a love for soccer, a penchant for skateboarding, and a tendency toward violence of the brotherly kind. They are mortal enemies and the best of friends, the pendulum often swinging from friend to enemy and back to friend again within 60 seconds.
They're both athletic dynamos. The older of the two is lean, small, and lightning-fast. The younger is tall, thick, and strong as an ox.
Last night, after an especially vigorous session of carpet wrestling, I heard them pause, breathless, to formulate impressive plans. They determined that they would take the professional soccer world by storm someday, two feisty brothers who would team up to strike fear in opponents. The oldest would be the speedy, agile Scorer Of Many Goals. The youngest would be the brick-wall goalie around whom no ball would fly.
Then they went back to the floor for more wrestling, until I went in to interrupt and tell them it was time to head to bed. We sat on the couch, mom in the middle, for bedtime prayers. Their sweaty, smelly heads leaned in on my shoulders. They were still out of breath. It was the first moment of quiet that room had seen in hours.
The oldest said his prayer, and then I said mine. And then the youngest, in a voice thick with sincerity, said softly, "Thank you, God, that my brother and I enjoy each other."
I caught my breath. Yes, thank you, I thought. Then–I couldn't help it–I peeked open my eyes at the two boys, still sitting at my side. Something settled over them.
They were struck by the moment, too.
The oldest looked over at his little brother, affection unmistakably written on his face. He gently, quietly nudged him with his elbow. The youngest returned the glance, and the nudge.
There was a perfect pause.
And then, at exactly the same moment, they erupted into grunts and laughter, diving for each other and heading straight for the carpet. I think the .7 miliseconds of tenderness was all they could bear.
I watched them, smiling, observing to myself that the moment had surely passed.
Or had it? I'm inclined to think–to hope–that a moment like that settles deeply in the hearts of two sweaty boys. It surely settles deeply in the heart of their mother.