I stole a glance at him, so still. Too still to fight me or ask what I’m looking at. Even if I had tried to explain, he wouldn’t understand.
How do you accurately convey the jumble of emotions parents experience when they see their child sleeping?
Newborns swaddled and snuggly with fists in a ball. Toddlers smashed against the bedrail, pushing limits even in slumber. Pre-teens losing their swagger; looking at peace with themselves and the world. And teens, like mine, who crave sleep like a drug; completely surrendering to its rejuvenating power.
These bodies at rest are a thing of wonder at any age. I drink it in, knowing that time is a thief, stealing innocence one day at a time.
But time is also the enemy in the morning. Particularly so on this, the first day of school. The first day of his last year in high school. The first of many lasts is my immediate future. He jumped up ready to tackle it, even if I wasn’t.
Mac has been home nearly three months, a long summer by today’s standards. I struggled to recapture the rhythm of the morning. Breakfast, lunches, forms, it all came back to me, albeit slowly.
He is driving himself to school this year, having secured a coveted parking pass. He will never know how much I’ll miss the car-ride chat time. The casual “Love you” before he exited the car. The extra time together my respite in our otherwise crazy days.
Because I always have time to be annoying, I followed him out to the car for the obligatory first day picture. Through the camera lens, my man-child leaned against his car looking so mature. I lifted my eye momentarily to compare the real-world view, sure the lens was skewing him somehow.
If anything, he looked even older and impossibly handsome to the naked eye. My breath caught as I snapped the photo. I didn’t realize I was still standing in the street until he started the engine moments later; looking at me wearily over the steering wheel.
I stepped onto the sidewalk and waved as he pulled away from the curb.
I stole a glance as he drove down the street, tears welling as he moved quickly away from me. Even if I had tried to explain, he wouldn’t understand.