Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Today I squeezed him a little tighter



My oldest son hugged me goodbye this morning as he has done every school day for the past twelve years. I squeezed him tight and told him I loved him as I have done every school day for the past twelve years.

But today I squeezed him a little tighter.

Today was the last time I would hug him goodbye and send him off to school.

I realize that sounds melodramatic. Perhaps I’ve induced an eye roll or two. But hear me out.

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of lasts. Firsts are exciting and seem to get all the attention, but lasts, well, they can be elusive, mysterious even. Life oftentimes makes it impossible to mark the lasts of early parenting. The last bottle, the last bath, the last diaper change, the last meal in a high chair, the last bedtime tuck-in, the last read-aloud, the last push in a stroller, the last crust cut-off. Those lasts go gentle into the good night and we’re off and running to the nexts.

But today I squeezed him a little tighter.

Today was the last time I would hug him goodbye and send him off to school.

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of memories. The storage space above our garage is proof positive. It is full of my past, boxes and crates full of my past. I keep a lot of ridiculously important things. No one else understands the importance of saving the pebble I nervously played with during my first “real” kiss. That meaningful piece of stone lives with many other treasures like my cream polyester eighth grade graduation dress and my Empire Strikes Back movie ticket stub from my twenty-seventh time.

It’s also full of other pasts. I have a box for college, a box for my wedding, boxes from my twelve years teaching, and boxes for my sons. I’m sure if I went through everything I’d find unrecognizable things, the reason for saving it in the first place long forgotten. But other things remain seared into my memory, like the baby blanket he clutched in his precious little hand, crying out from his crib for, “Comfies, Mommy!” Comfies was his term and it perfectly described me covering him up before he drifted to sleep. Comfies lives in my box of memories.

I’ve always been fascinated by the future. You may think I live in the past. I don’t. I treasure the past. I hold memories dear, but I’m an anticipator, always gazing towards the possibilities. The future excites me, helps me let things go and for that I am thankful.

His future is upon us, knocking on our door, waiting to take his hand. I must let go.

I’ve saved too much, my husband says. I say I’ve saved the lasts, and today was the last time I would hug him goodbye and send him off to school.

Today I squeezed him a little tighter.