For the first years of my son’s life, he was my shadow. On any given day, you’d find him on my hip, or on my lap, or hugging a leg. When I walked away, he followed. When I went out with my husband or friends, he cried. When he woke up in the morning, or from a nap, he called for me. It was endearing, exhausting, and short-lived (if you consider three years short).
About 13 years ago, both of my boys wrestled. For a few months in the winter, I brought them to practice at the high school. I sat in the hall waiting for one, then the other, to enjoy rolling around on thick, smelly mats in the gym with their peers.
One evening I was with my younger son, my shadow, waiting for the older one to finish his practice when a coach came out of the gym with a large box. He placed the box on the floor and asked me if I would help him to hand out tournament t-shirts to the players as they left.
Of course, I agreed.
As each boy came out, I found his size and gave it to him. To do this, I had to lean over and reach inside the box which caused my sweater to rise a few inches above my waist exposing my lower back. Each time this happened, I felt a small hand pull the sweater down to cover me. My son was almost five years old then.
Last week we dropped this son at college for the first time. We found his room, unpacked his belongings, made his bed, set up his television, and too soon, said goodbye.
I’m not sure why that memory, so clear in my mind, came to me. I can’t remember what I did yesterday. But I grabbed it, reliving the moment outside of that gym. Last week, I walked away from this child who used to pull down the back of my sweater so my skin wouldn’t show. I walked away and he didn’t follow, or cry, or call for me.
My heart is full of small, yet significant memories such as this, and to know I can draw upon them when I need brings me comfort.
This is the beginning of a new stage for us. And maybe, just maybe, the memories we’ve made over the years, the ones I hold like treasures, will make the moving on hurt less.