I have wistful moments at the strangest times-like today-driving northbound down my street headed to pick up my boys from school at 2:00pm after stopping by the store. (Whew! That’s a lot of prepositional phrases-which is why you feel out of breath right now.) The moments never last long so I try to pause and revel in them because they remind me that I am alive and that I might have some regrets if I don’t make changes. My long-standing prayer since my first son was born in 1996 has been, “Please, Lord, help minimize my regrets. I know I’m going to have some; I understand that. But, can You please, please, please help me to NOT be that little old lady sitting in her rocking chair lamenting all of the lost time…please.” (Alan Jackson pretty much sums it up here. ) This is not a post about some of the answers to that prayer. This is a post about my moment today.
So, I dropped my 19 year old son off at the house and zoomed off alone in my SUV (I know, waste-o-gas!) when I quickly glanced in my rear view mirror just in time to see said 19 year old make it up the driveway. I’ve lived this moment thousands of times but suddenly, it grips me: ‘Hello, wistfulness. Welcome… but you know he’s already left home twice, right? Once for college, once for employment? And he’s made it clear that he wants to be an adult? And he has made many adult decisions? And he looks like a man? Ok. Just so we are all on the same page. Now, you may release your memories.’
Ah, yes- the memory quilt. Well, I was bound and determined fifteen years ago that my children would leave home with a memory quilt. I like to quilt and they outgrow and wear out some very important clothing-combine the two and voila! memory quilt. I imagined them the first night away from home wrapping themselves up in comforting homespun reminders: the favorite kindergarten zip shirt, the mock trial t-shirt, the scout patch, the football jersey, the Christmas jammie scrap. Can’t you just feel the wonderfulness? Well, it’s upstairs in my office/sewing/storage area in a clear tub just waiting to be assembled. Instead we bought him a comforter at WalMart in Virginia. Does he feel comforted?
And now you mock me with the storybooks? Well, I was going to make a digital storybook of each year of their life to be given at Christmastime as a special keepsake of our family time together. Too bad that half of my pictures are a jumbled mess in boxes (pre-iphoto, you know) and the other half are a jumbled mess on my computer. How will he remember?
The music CD. That was a great idea! The summer before my son left home I had the brilliant idea to burn a CD with songs that were meaningful to just the two of us or the family at large. He loves music; I love music. The perfect ‘goodbye’ connection. But, alas, it required too much technology (finding the music, getting it into my itunes, and then somehow figuring out how to get in onto a CD). And he left home anyway.
All of this flicks through my mind in the time it takes me to drive one mile. And while he is home for the moment, he’s really gone. He’s 19! He’s got big plans which don’t involve me or living under my regime. Let’s hope I gave him something to comfort him, something to hold on to, something to listen to.
And sometimes I just want to say to him, “Come back…please be five again….let me have some more time with you…time to finish our memories…and my going away gifts.” And here come the tears. Yep, I’m still alive.