As You Walk Away
I watched you walk to your car, a bounce in your step, that cap on your head.
Don’t you know you’re walking out of my world? A thousand long miles away.
You go, into your new world, a world of adventure and learning and sweat and possible danger.
And I am bursting with pride, but also a slow sad grief burns its way up from my belly….until it floods my eyes and, my throat hurting, I slowly turn and walk inside to dry my face.
Earlier today I watched as you stood straight with your arms at your side, and raised that snappy salute to that perfect stranger, and pledged to honor and defend your country, and I felt the same. now-familiar pride and pain while all the while knowing it was the right thing for you to do.
I’d spent a wonderful two full days with you, watching movies, eating your favorite foods and all the things a mother offers in those last days together that mean so much to her and might mean a little bit to you.
Will you miss these things? The bright, brick-red hue of the achiote-spiced chicken you beg me to make, the steam of the crab boil as it is poured onto the newspaper on the kitchen table we’ve dined at so often together, or the comfort of a quilt on a leather chair kicked back while we watch all three Hobbit movies?.
My eyes flicker over my grandma’s Bible on the fireplace hearth as I walk heavily into the living room. Will you make God your own, now that you’re far away from the confines of parental authority? I am comforted knowing that the one possession you were allowed to take besides your cell phone was that small pocket Bible I saw in your backpack at the swearing-in ceremony. I saw your fingers caressing the cover as you kept it out and handed us the rest of your modern gadgets to bring home, and my heart soars now remembering it.
I walk slowly up the carpeted stairs and through the upstairs living room where your X-box sits blankly looking up at me, as if it knows it’s finally been bypassed for adulthood, and into your room with its un-made bed.
I think about how early tomorrow morning you will learn how to make crisply-tucked hospital corners on the cold metal bunk that will be your new home and I smile through the wetness of my eyes at what I know will change you for the better. I make the bed and feel the emptiness of the now-neat room. I would give one thousand un-made beds to have you here again.
So do you know as you walk away…
Just how much I love you?