The screen flickers and suddenly there you are, a nine-year old boy lounging on the couch, tracing tanks from a book.
It takes my breath away to see you again so suddenly. The videotape was unearthed this afternoon victoriously by your sister- her long-lost baby tape. Her baby image stuns me as well, but here she sits, beaming beside me, in all of her 10-year-old deliciousness.
With you it’s a different story. You have morphed into a man and have left that couch behind, left us all behind. Of course, the goal all along was for you to leave us behind. That is what we worked towards every day, for all of those years. That was what all that love was about: building you, building you, building you, so you would have the strength and the guts and the drive to leave us all behind.
And you did it so well, my amazing, beautiful boy. You decided what you wanted and checked your fear at the door. You walked away from your family, your friends, your town and your country -everything that was known to you- all for the adventure of it. I couldn’t be more proud.
So I sit and mourn the loss of the nine-year old version of you. This mothering gig is so much more complex than I ever thought it would be. I honestly had no idea that my sweet babies would grow long and get big teeth (that their bodies would need to grow into) and sprout dark hairs and speak unrecognizably low. It never occurred to me that you would grow up.
But somewhere deep in me, I knew. Of course I knew. That is evolution. It is in all of us. Instinctively, I knew my job.
But it all happened so quickly. Were you ever a baby? Is that really you on the couch? And who was that woman behind the camera? Is she the same person who weeps for you now? Will I be asking these same questions ten years from now?
Yes. I will. So it reminds me to hug a little tighter and speak a little kinder.
You were the first. You blazed the trail and you have done a magnificent job. Your siblings will follow, even if they believe that they are not. You have shown them what can be done, what is possible. They will do it in their own unique way, but you were the first. You will always be the big brother.
You will always be my child.
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans ~ John Lennon
“Beautiful boy (Darling boy)”