He would walk around the house asking in his baby-plaintive voice, "Mom, are you!? are you?!"...Mom, where are you. Of course, I would usually be in the bathroom (not that I went that much but that was the place he just didn't think to look). That was Dylan and in three weeks we will gather together at the Mizzou Arena to watch him make that journey across the stage, accepting his diploma. All the years of wrestling, basketball practice, swimming lessons, football and soccer, school plays and open houses, teachers' conferences and music lessons are behind us now. Where did they go? Where do they ever go?
Dylan says, he says that he will be joining the Air Force. He wants to get out of Columbia. While Chuck hangs around Columbia, working full-time, not ever wanting to leave, and Ray continues to study at the University, thinking that he will move someplace, out west, once his schooling is finished.
It is difficult sometimes to let go of what was once a life. A life with boundaries, with things you understood. A life, even though it was through different houses, but a life where children were fed, bathed, put to bed and later, carted hither, thither and yon. A life where it is your house, your rules and "because I said so"....Where children (through the years) dropped in to visit, to have sleep-overs, to go bicycling, to go swimming. A life where birthday parties and summer were both things which were celebrated and where going back to school was looked at with both apprehension and exitement.
How many times did I sit in a car (first a green Toyota Camry Station wagon followed by a white Volvo station wagon) in the heat of the day waiting for the boys to get out of school, to see them walking across the green lawns of the Middle School, towards the car. How often did I look for signs of trouble, sadness, happiness, change? How many of their friends from grade school remain their friends today? How much have I and do I pray for them? The answer is, not enough.
We didn't go to church when they were growing up, oh briefly we did, then we stopped. After nursing school I took a job working every weekend. It worked out better that way. They would be at their dad's house every weekend and at my house during the week. There was no need for babysitters, or a rare need for babysitters. For eight months when they were tiny I took them to a sitters house everyday while I went to work at the VA Hospital. It was torture. The kids were at someone else's house and not with mom or dad. What was the best route to take? The route I chose was to work every weekend and leave the boys with their strictly heatheren dad. At the time it seemed to work and truthfully, I wouldn't take back those years at all. The work allowed me to take the boys to school, volunteer numerous hours in the classroom, cook them breakfast, pick them up from school, cook them dinner and truck them back and forth to their practices. What it did not allow was church time.
That is the past and there is a futility in looking to the past, clinging to something which is gone and cannot be undone, cannot be re-done. They are grown, and they all, in their ways, work hard, and lead productive lives. Now, after so many years gone and past, I pray, because truthfully, it is the only thing I have. Funny how the closer to the end of a life we get (or some of us), how much deeper, more meaningful, our faith becomes. Perhaps it is just the losses which mount (death, the ramifications of past behaviors, realization of limitations), the futility of grasping that which cannot be held onto and the futility of wanting to hold onto, anything. Perhaps faith is deepened because, after losing absolutely everything which one thought was important (houses, cars, relationships, dreams), the only thing, the only real thing to stand on, to build on, is faith. A faith in something (someone=Jesus) above, beyond and greater than ourselves (well, myself). Perhaps it is the time of life when finally I say "Thy Will" rather than, "My Will".
The car door slams and I can hear the front door opening. Dylan is home. He will walk through the door and we will chat about his day. Dinner is planned, the clothes are folded and put away, the beds made, the litter box cleaned, the dishes done. "Hello son, hello"...and so it goes.
"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." C.S. Lewis