I looked across my room to my son, sitting in the armchair by the light of the lamp. I wished I had my camera, not only the grainy phone camera. I wanted to freeze that image, keep it. But even as the wish whizzed through my brain, I knew I wouldn’t. I knew this was one to try to see, really see, all the details and sear into my brain.
I really looked at him in the lamplight: his face, now settling into his manly face and features and structure. No longer the softer baby-child face of the boy, but filled out now, settled into a thicker stronger man face. His long tall self spilling over the chair, feet beyond even the recliner footrest, big feet. His computer on his lap, the light from the screen also filling his face with a glow, reflecting off his glasses.
I gazed at him, he didn’t notice. He was seeing the faces and bios of his novice class-mates, his soon to be brothers, for the first time. He was intent and focused on reading them, his first intro to his ‘new family.’ And I, the matriarch of his old family, his first family, could only look hard at my son, and send out a silent prayer for his happiness, for the goodness of these new men in his life, for him to find joy. His dad, snoozing next to me after a long day, unaware that his boy was looking first glimpse at his future and new, possibly lifelong friends…brothers of a kind.
I’ve been trying hard these past weeks and months to step away from the tears that come unbidden…because those tears are for me. They are a selfish yearning to grasp what I don’t really have anymore…and to hang onto the known that I do. I have been trying hard to trust in the joy that I have been told and that I hope is just on the other side of this goodbye. Some days I do better and I can simply laugh and enjoy his company. Some days I have to walk away and do laundry or some automatic chore so that I can sidestep the sharp stab in the middle of my chest, and blink back the tears that are springing again, leaking.
Last night was a moment, in the lamp glow, frozen in time and marked in my brain and heart. It was a still long look at my son, on the very cusp of a new life, “meeting” his new brothers in the Dominican Order, the new novices who will spend next year with him, and very possibly beyond.
And I blinked.
Then, I took a deep breath, smiled, and asked him if I could “meet” them too.