Standing in the parking lot outside the
apartment building, knowing what is coming, my heart lurches. We are awkwardly standing around because none of us really wants to begin. A friend said to visualize the goodbye, wished I had done that. Wished I could have written my script, maybe even taped it since I don't think words can get by the HUGE lump in my throat. But the letter I left on his bed will have to do. Finally, Jack starts the process. He hugs Stephen and then I go deaf. I know I am next and the rushing in my ears is drowning out what others are saying. Finally he comes toward me. I look in his eyes and I see the fear, I grab him and feel the grief radiating off him. No matter the good intentions, the tears come. Silently they fall as I hold my first-born son. I tell him I love him and that he will do great. He gruffly tells me he loves me then grabs his sister and they tease. We get in the car, and I watch him walk away. The dam breaks and the grief is uncontrollable. I had no idea the strength of the sorrow. I couldn't breathe as the sobs wracked through my body. Every cell in my body wanted to jump out of the car and go back. It wasn't time was the refrain going through my head. I only had him 17 years!! I was supposed to keep him for 18! Maryland stole one year from me! I want it back. I shouted these and other phrases inside my head, didn't want to totally scare the other child, as we drove away. We drove in silence with the occasional hiccup coming from me, for miles before my breathing began to slow down.
If I had known the depth of the grief I feel today back when trying to get pregnant, would I have tried so hard? If I had known the anguish of raising a teen, would I have tried so long? Yes. Yes. Yes. I would not have missed one day of this beautiful boy's life. He showed me compassion for others when he was two and waited patiently every morning for his friend Sydney, who had separation anxiety, to arrive so he could read to her so she wouldn't cry. He showed me how to have fun by making games out of everything we did. He taught me joy by running to hug me everyday when I came home. He taught me perseverance by working hard for his dream of playing college baseball. Yes, I wouldn't have missed a moment of those precious seventeen years.
Now it is time to look ahead. What new adventures await him? What new ideas will he discover? What new lessons will he learn? I don't know, but I know he will bring his big heart, huge smile and loads of determination to everything and everyone in his way.
Fly my baby bird, Fly!