I penned the words that follow for my son who came into the world twenty-three years ago today. I say I penned them for him, but of course the truth is that I wrote them for myself. He may read them and brush a quick kiss against my cheek and whisper a shy thank you, but the words are not likely to sink beyond the surface. Not because he is hardened, but because life, particularly parenthood, has not yet permeated the still intact surface of his life.
When did the Bus Turn?
How subtle it is…that turning of the bus…When did we pull up to that last stop of childhood? I did not see you get off…My head must have been turned as you bounded through that open door to travel out into the world and gather the makings of manhood. I looked around and suddenly you were not here….I was startled and heart-broken, but the bus just rambled forward in mid-speed neutrality. And then after what seemed like hours- or maybe it was years…I felt the bus slow – and pull up to a stop. The zigzagging collapsible door opened wide and I watched a man step on. I paid him no mind as I stared dispassionately at the floor beneath my feet, awaiting your return.That man, he sat down beside me- after a moment he took my hand. I froze. Who was he? Afraid to look up I just stared at the large hand that now covered mine beneath its breadth. I was startled to see the small crescent-shaped scar… that scar that draped itself across your perfect alabaster skin, after that day I had pulled you and your sled up a hillside that was both too steep and too icy and you broke your wrist… I looked out the window just in time to see a sign go by that said ‘Leaving Childhood Now’. That’s when I knew, even though I had not felt it, at some point your journey had changed lanes, deftly moving from youth into manhood. The move was seamless and there was no going back. I squeezed your hand tight, but looked straight ahead so that I wouldn’t cry. I settled then , a little deeper in my seat , as I relaxed into the knowing that there were still many miles to go.