I dance in the reflection of my son’s brown eyes and hear the ebb and flow of our years together sing out across this space between us. Every note rings true a memory, and as he speaks I hear his voice so long ago. The years he called me ‘Mommy,’ and sat for hours in my lap with coloring books or Tonka trucks in the mud; a crescendo of sheer bliss. The year he stopped calling me ‘Mommy’ and I became ‘Mom’ and he didn’t fit in my lap any longer but needed clean football gear and rides to and from school for practice. When we stopped reading together at night because he’d learned what he needed. The cuts and bruises he eventually didn’t need tended too by an over-reactive mom. The homework that I could help him with, until he became smarter than me. When he still looked for me in the audience and smiled once he found me. He is sitting now, before me, in all of his six foot, two hundred pound frame and we’re talking but I can only see the acceptance letter from the college and the moment I held him for the first time after Boot Camp.
The music shifts and the ghosts from years past ask if I was a good enough mother to this young man. Did I raise him as he deserved, does he believe in my unconditional love, and why did it go so fast that I couldn’t seem to learn quick enough to do it better? When did my little boy grow up? I want to reach for him, but I can still hear he is speaking to me so I pause and briefly see that still, deep down, behind those wise young eyes I still exist.
We are moving in a stanza of great momentum, where the movements take on a life of their own and there is nothing you can do but brace for the great clash of impact; his leaving soon. From my arms, my home, and my early morning sweet smiles and hugs; life will be forever different. The dance will change and the music will shift and I will learn now how to be a different mother to this precious child who has outgrown me. I pray in my soul that I have not failed him. His voice changes, and from it I am pulled away from the dance, “Yes?” I finally speak back.
“So, can I?” He asks.
I nod my head. He hugs me, “Thanks Mom.”
I watch him walk away. The music comes to an end. I wonder what it was he asked. I look over at the chair that is now empty. He’ll be back. Maybe not as he once was, but he’ll be back. And I will be here.