“Sam! You wanna see Toy Story 3 wiff me?!” Tyler’s bigger-than-he-is voice once again being carried across the patch of grass and landing on my somewhat startled ears. I got up from the couch and could just make out his tiny frame behind the screen door directly across from mine, and there the two of us in our morning lounge wear, (read jammies) made plans to go see Toy Story when it came out. We had some scheduling issues but through his mother’s diligent research we came up with a date and a venue, I was going to see to see Toy Story 3…in 3D at an IMAX theatre, with a four year old that is somewhat obsessed with Buzz Lightyear, dude.
Out earlier than I would normally have been on a day off but I confess that I was so freaking excited. It had been almost fifteen years since I had been to a cartoon movie with a little one, got to be there when they were overtaken by the screen, the way they look over at you when something “really cool” happens, watching them be awed, and the magic feeling that seems to radiate off of them. Too long, it had been too long and I simply could not wait. We got to the theatre super early assuming it would be packed, got our tickets, our big yellow plastic 3D glasses and had time to get a bite before the show started. I had to laugh at the way the ladies at The Yard House cooed at Tyler in his Buzz Lightyear T-shirt and light up shoes. He charmed them of course so I have to admit to feeling very special as we made our way back to a table and his giant voice proclaimed, “I wanna sit wiff Sam!” not that this was ever in question mind you, but seeing as we were not in our regular eating spot he had to make sure. Yes he is a tad retentive but it is just one more adorably sweet thing that makes him Tyler.
Getting this four year old to eat before seeing the movie was a bit of a stretch, he asked me no fewer than three times if I would be sitting next to him at the movies and was this hilarious bundle of nerves and energy. I found myself falling into that place that I often do with him, feeling comfortable letting my silly side loose. Leaning in and letting him whisper, (this too cracks me up as he does it all wrong. He leans in, gets close to my ear and instead of cupping his hand over his mouth and my ear he places his pudgy little hand between my ear and his mouth…kills me) the secrets of four year old friends. “Poop” or “Butt” these are the funniest things he can think of and when he shares them with me, no matter how many times he shares them with me, he jerks his head back, eyes big as saucers, slaps his hand across his mouth and starts giggling which of course gets me laughing too. After threat of separation both at lunch and for the movie Tyler ate some of his lunch and we were on our way.
Tyler’s dad took him to get our seats, mom and Call-o hit up the concession stand and I took my, “damn I drink too much water” self to the restroom as I did not want to miss a thing. Met up with the snack retrievers and Tyler’s mom gave me his little kid’s box of goodies, “you can be the hero” she said with a grin. A few minutes later I was tucked in beside my little boyfriend, his Buzz Lightyear light up shoes just barely dangling off the of the theatre seat, big plastic glasses taking up half of his adorable face. In all the years I have been stalking/adoring my wee buddy I have never seen him so still or heard him so quiet, captivated, he was captivated….we both were.
So I don’t want to be a spoiler but I am guessing that few of you are really aching to see Toy Story 3 so I will say that the theme is very Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh….eventually Christopher no longer needs Pooh. He grows up and while he will forever remember the time he spent with his beloved friend that chapter is over and everyone has to move on. Toy Story 3 has that same message as the kid in the movie is going off to college, no longer needing his toys to keep him company. I sat there next to Tyler the last five minutes on our date, he spellbound behind his big yellow glasses and me, well I was crying behind mine.
Over seven months, it has been over seven months since I was able to wrap my arms around my son. Able to take in his smell, hear him laugh, look over and see the face that kept me strong, kept me fighting, the wide brow that I covered with millions of tiny kisses and brown eyes that taught me everything I know about true love. The gentle and loving soul that I so badly wanted to protect that I was willing to take hit after painful hit and hide it from everyone. I would not cave, would not buckle and would never let that kind of evil near him. A face that never knew how terrified I was, scared that I might not be strong enough to take one more blow….even more afraid that one day I would be forced to either run or watch as it drove off in a car that had time and time again tried to run me off the road. A face that to this day wears the kind of pride, admiration and adoration….for me, that has more than once had me slinking off to my dark bedroom, in tears and allowing myself to feel something I have never been comfortable with…proud of myself.
So this Sunday I board a plane, on my way to another date. This time the date is with my sweet and lifesaving son, long overdue and as I sit here typing this with tears streaming down my face, so very needed. Watching the cartoon mom in the movie cry as she packed up her son’s toys brought back the memories of packing Jeremy up and moving him to what might have well as been a million miles away. The way I smiled and was beaming with pride that I had raised a young man that was so confident that he could leave us all behind, but inside feeling more like Winnie the Pooh, my Christopher Robin leaving, no longer needing me, and wondering if I were even real without him.
Sunday I board a plane to the south where at the other end I will be able to do something I have never done before, buy a drink for the man that saved my life, made me the woman I am and makes me feel more proud than I ever thought possible. Proud of the man he has become and proud that I had something to do with that. Thank him, I will be able to buy him a drink and thank him for everything he has done for me. My baby is turning 21 and this teary eyed woman will be there, clinking glasses and basking in the glow of that face….
Jeremy, I say this to you now and I mean it as much as I did the first time I took you in my arms, held your tiny little fingers and brushed my lips across your sweaty little hairline, I love you more than I have ever loved anyone, ever. You have been my whole world for half of my life and no matter how far apart we are you sir will forever be the greatest love of my life. I say this not to discount any other love I have but to assure you that years apart has not diminished even one ounce of that love. In your heart I have found a place to feel like the most important, beautiful, strong and admired person in the world, in your heart is where I will forever live and shine. I know that you cannot yet understand what an amazing gift that is, but one day you will and I will be there giving you a knowing nod, our nod…the one we give each other when we are in on our own little secret, yeah that one. I will be smiling and watching as you find a home in someone else’s heart. You will know it when it happens and in that moment I know with all that I am, you will feel me, remember this note and fully understand the magnitude of what I am telling you. Understand what it is you have given me and I hope, just for a brief second in that moment that you are able to feel proud of what it was that you gave your mother.
When we met I was a mess. An 18 year old girl so fractured and confused that I didn’t have a clue what to do. You did not announce your, “presence” until you had been there five months and you didn’t give me much time to figure out what to do what with being born two months early and all but….when I thought about your tiny three pound body emerging from mine, heart not beating and lungs not taking in the breath they needed, the way you struggled to survive…well kid, you inspired me. Your fight brought on mine and in those first couple weeks of our life together I drew upon your strength and will. You fought to save my life so I will forever fight to save yours.
You and I have something truly special Jeremy, we both know it, have always known it and I cannot think of anything that would change that. No years apart, no miles apart…you are forever with me and I hope you know that I am always with you. So while I see similarities between Toy Story 3 and Winnie the Pooh, I never feel like you don’t need me, I know you do and maybe this time apart has made me even stronger, more capable to love you the way you need me to. I know meeting you made me a better person and I honestly believe loving you opened something inside me that would never have been touched without you. I would not be the woman I am without you and there is simply no way for me to repay you for that.
I can however promise to be your box in the attic, the keeper of your memories, your stories. I can hold them tight and safe while you begin building new ones. I will dust off, “Falcon Man”…our first shared drink, a glass of Champagne when you were ten to celebrate New Years. You running up and down the hall with your favorite Christmas gift, night vision goggles. Body all buzzy from a few sips of Champagne and you standing in the dark hallway, hands on your hips, green lights blaring from your buggy looking goggles, belting out your best super hero voice, “Falcon Man!”. I will polish off the Jeremy that used to cry every time another baby would, the sympathetic little one that would push out his bottom lip at the mere sight of someone in tears. Chuckle as I unwrap the Jeremy that first saw pubic hair on a man, the way you came screaming from the public restroom, eyes wild with panic as you told me, “He has a hairy China”….really laugh as I remember that you used to call our, “area” a “China”. All your stories are here with me Jeremy, each one safe and protected, shrouded by a heart that you helped build. One strong enough to stand any test of time and distance.
I love you very much baby and I could not be more proud of the man that you are. I simply cannot wait to take you in my arms, hold you tight and welcome this next chapter of our life, of your life. I’m packing some Champagne…got your goggles? Forever And a day, Da Momma