“Mommy, Thank you for loving me and for ordering me French toast without butter. I love you. -Justin”
It was written on a graduation program from Brophy College Prep, May 26, 2007, and had remained hidden on my bedside table since, until I was seized by a pre-travel cleaning binge this week before heading off to Boston for Justin’s graduation from Boston College.
And it caught me completely off guard. I fell asleep with quiet tears running down my face, and have been battling them ever since. Oh, for Heaven’s sake.
I am reminded of my beautiful Other-Mother Mary when my step-son graduated from ASU. We had all approached the day with humor and irreverence, and finally made it to our seats in the auditorium. This was seven years after initially shipping him off to college. It was a long walk. When I looked over, her eyes had filled completely. Exasperated, she said…” I don’t know why I am crying all of the sudden.”
Well, because it is sudden. A sudden reminder of an exquisite, constant longing.
They show up on their own time line, these beautiful children of ours, consulting only with the Power that sends them. They are “ours”, but immediately belong to a world and a path with only their name written on it. According to our family’s understanding, they are sent to serve the world with work their Creator gives them. We can’t know.
We are intoxicated by the closeness of this life to ours, and terrified by the separation that is ever present. The life is our solemn responsibility. It is our joy and the source of a shattering kind of love and commitment. But in one of life’s loveliest ironies, our mission is to hold them close, preparing them to leave.
And we get that, we Moms. So we hold the terror of losing them…from our arms, and then our sight…at bay while we instill calm and security. We hope our displays of positive demeanor and obvious confidence in them will transfer, so that one day they will happily navigate a world that doesn’t worry about them like we do. We smile into baby faces, holding their eyes with ours, “You are wonderful, you are amazing, I am so happy to be here. “ We are their everything.
And then gradually we give way. They can walk, they can talk, they have opinions, they don’t need ours. Our voices and our bodies step back; our hearts are relentless. A critical piece of us travels everywhere with that baby, that child, that achingly beautiful person, and we never get it back.
We get used to the feeling.
But every now and then it catches us off guard, that unbidden space between us. In a note, in a moment, in the celebration of life moving ahead. So we tear up, apologize and shake it off.
We seize every opportunity to revel in an occasion to look into that beautiful face.
So I have the greatest blessing of flying across the country to see our son graduate. And with my greatest happiness, calm and confidence to say to him – yet again – “You are beautiful, you are amazing…I am so happy to be here.”