Sometimes we forget about the small things in life, the tiny moments that, once experienced, form something more than a memory and stay with us forever.
This afternoon I spent a wonderful couple of hours in the park with my eight-year-old son, kicking a football in the sunshine. I went in goal and he took shots, then he went in nets and I tried to score past him. Then we played headers and volleys. One of his little friends - there in the park with his recently divorced father - joined us for a while, then they went away. The sun was shining. The park was full of people, filled with glorious life.
These moments for me are bittersweet. They remind me of how much I hate my late father, because he was never there to do these things with me. He never gave me the small things, the offhand moments that I was meant to carry around with me and recall fondly at times like these. Another part of me is glad that I'm able to do this for my own son, that he gets to have the things I didn't, the memories that were always kept out of my reach, like forbidden sweets on a dusty top shelf: kicking around a battered leather football with your dad, smiling and laughing in the sunshine, sharing a moment, high-fiveing when a goal goes in; playing games that aren't really games at all in retrospect, because they're part of the serious business of living.
It's dark now, the sun went in hours ago. My son is fast asleep in bed. I hope he's dreaming about our game of football in the park. I hope that memory is wriggling down somewhere deep inside, where it can sit and wait for the time, many years from now, when he'll take it out of the box, brush away the cobwebs, and smile about the small things he and his dad did together.