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?