i am holding onto moments, freezing frames, as if compiling a loop of kodacolor film i will hold, rub my thumbs along, raise up to the light, memorize, when he is gone.
i am stopping at the edge of his room, soaking in the tableau–the jumbled socks, the soggy towel–knowing that in half a year, there will be no messy room.
i am driving to his school, climbing stairs, entering the gallery where his art hangs on the wall. i am standing, neck tilted back, looking up, eyes wide, soaking in the art, his words, his name on the label on the wall.
i climb downstairs, take my seat in the dim-lit auditorium, look toward the stage, see the curl of his bass, the slick-down curls of his own head, still wet from the shower after rowing.
i lock my eyes on his silhouette in the darkness, as the stage lights come up from behind, as i study that head that i have held, have known, since the hour when i reached for him, newborn, and took him in my arms.
nearly 18 years i have loved him more than anything, have been a player in the story of his life. have known the scenes, most every one. and now, the ones i enter into, i hold onto in my mind, in my heart, as i commit to memory, yes, but even more to soul, the whole of this chapter of mothering. of being the moon to his orbit, his every day rotation.
i hear the drumbeat in the background. soft at first, muffled, but getting louder by the day. as if the dial’s being turned.
the last this. the senior that. final season.
two months and two weeks till graduation. all around me, high school swirls. he swirls. my firstborn, love of my life.
i pore over each and every frame. take time. stop, in mid-conversation, as he lies, stretched out at the end of a long day, reaches for my popcorn, tells me silly stories. i stop and marvel. take in each syllable, but witness too the quirks and gestures i have known for so very many years. the way he taps his thumb, crosses his leg and kicks his foot.
i marvel at the mere fact that at the end of these long days we can unspool together, i can hear in real time, without phone line or typed email. i can, for a few more short months, take in his life in 3-D, full-plane topography.
and so, as if storing for the future, for the days when he won’t be here, won’t be coming home soon. for the days when i ache to see his shining eyes, when i’ll give anything for a jumbled pair of sweaty socks to be dropped across his room…..
i am gathering the frames, the moments of his wholeness, one facet at a time. i am doing what we do when someone we love is leaving, and we are making room inside our hearts to store the memories, the sense, the wholeness.
i am holding onto time as i feel it slipping through my fingers. i am scaffolding my heart for when it’s aching, and these days are no longer……
the window up above, with the candles and the russian cross, that is one of will’s six photos in the art show. or it’s a part of a photo, taken at a louis sullivan russian orthodox church on chicago’s west side. i sat up in the choir loft as will clicked away in the jewel-box of a church, where sunlight played on golden threads and gold-painted doors.
as i try to wrap my head around this leaving, around this chapter coming to a close, i can’t help but reach for words, to try to shade in the outlines. i know there are those who’ve walked this way, did the letting go settle in slowly? did you keep watch as the time drew nearer? or did it come up from behind and catch you unawares?
It is catching me unawares at this very moment. My oldest is off with dad on his first college visit. Oh, my. My future is in your words.
Dearest bam … I hear your heart beating in every word. I know how you feel. When my Emily went away, it wasn’t for college because that was a mere 30 minutes away. Instead, we prepared for six months as her wedding day approached, knowing that she would leave her room, her house, her life behind for the new life she would take on in California. It will be hard to let go of him as you hug him goodbye, but know that it’s not forever. The first one to leave the nest is the hardest, and I’m told it gets easier after that. My thoughts turn to the mothers who hug their sons as they go off to war, hoping and praying that hug will not be their last. My heart is wrenched just thinking about that.You’re a wonderful mother to your boys and an example to us all.
I try to imagine this formerly grinning, curly headed little boy as he must look now. Reading about him makes me smile. I had to let him go a long time ago. He is often here in my mind especially through your words. He will always be with you.
gorgeous, as always. my heart longs that room to stay messy a bit longer, for there to be a few more concerts to sit through for you. but you know this story of that sweet boy (who i always picture in overalls and a red plastic fire hat) is only getting better.
p.s. barbie-your mystery post is me, laura…as if you didn’t know.
bless you all for pulling up here while i was busy tending to that boy. pammy, your point about mothers hugging children going off to wars is one that doesn’t escape me. and as i peek through spread fingers at the images flowing in from japan, too painful to watch head-on, so i hide behind my outstretched fingers….that is heartbreak beyond heartbreak…too many partings, too many goodbyes that were never uttered…..’nother barb, bless you as you begin this road. we are blessed, all of us who love so deeply it hurts. and i am most certain that’s everyone who pulls up a chair. and finally, beloved, njk, you make me cry to think of how we fell in love with you. and how we miss you. i should send you a photo of that gorgeous boy. you would faint. let me see if i can get one to you…..and laura, babysitter to the stars, and now a mama too. and now knowing what it is to love someone more than life itself….love to you all, each and every blessed one… xoxox
Oh…the longing. pjv is right and my first was the hardest. I cried through Ohio after I left her at her dorm room over the PA border. In a way, I enjoyed every tear for each one represented some moment in our growing up together….messes, giggles, story books, dresses, movies, homework, baths, vacations, sports, irish dancing, first dates, prom, friend problems, friend successes. How could I have pictured where we are now? She is two miles away in a studio apt, we meet for dinner, we talk on the phone about messes, giggles, books, dresses, weddings, friend problems, work problems, friend successes, work successes. It all blends together somehow, but those tears and that longing sum up a whole lot of loving, watching, and talking and that makes them precious. Being a momma is a blessing unto itself. Hang in there Bam and enjoy each lovely pang. They heal up beautifully.
Thank you for putting into beautiful words, the feelings of a mother of a senior. So many times in 18 years, I told myself “These are the best days of your life as a mother.” But the current ones are still so precious as they wane. Oh the tears and the laughter. Where did the time go?
Pulling up a chair after a long absence… When Ryan left it felt as if part of me was missing. I would find myself crying in the grocery store-seeing an item that reminded me of him,remembering all the shopping trips getting him ready for his send off. What got me through was hearing his voice so happy and full of life. I try not to bother him too much…knowing that he will call when he needs me(which has only been a few times over the past 2 1/2 years). Now I am preparing for my baby to leave in the fall. Might come to Chicago for a hug. I admire & love you very much.
you know him by heart and he knows to the core of his being that he is known with such grace and love by his dear mother
bless you all, as i read the comments i think over and over and through and through, how did we get so blessed to find each other at this chair? lamcal, you say it so beautifully: each of those tears is a globe that holds a wholeness, a moment, all strung together in this magnificent stream that does not, will not, end or slow. the blessing that is motherhood, a miracle that starts before we even hear the first heartbeat and carries us through to our end…….so much wisdom here, some of it accumulated from the past, some of it looking toward the future. for some that parting is just around the bend, for others, years and years away….bless you all. i am humbled to be gathered here among you, each and everyone…..
lamcal and slj … what a joy to meet up with you at the table again. You’re forever in my heart. All of the comments here are so precious, sweet and true. Isn’t it peculiar how, as mothers, we are made of steel, but we melt at the sight of our children.