“It’s a tossup. Can’t decide between chicken soup or Ecco’s Pizza”
Jeremy’s answer to the, “So, what would you like for dinner your last night at home? I can make whatever you like, or we can go out” via text message as I was closing out my day at work yesterday. I tossed my backpack and a bottle of Menetou-Salon in the front seat of my car, checked my phone to see if a decision had been reached, the empty envelope thing telling me that this was a tough one for the kiddo, shrugged and headed home.
Chatted myself up on the thirty minute drive from the shop to my home. Reminded myself how very proud I am of my son having the courage to be on his own. How excited he must be to be looking down the barrel of a brand new adventure; moving to a new city, trying to get into Grad school, moving even further from home. All things, that no matter how strong and courageous people like to say I am…not sure I would do. I let my pride keep my tears at bay, flipped the station if any song had the remote possibility of making me too emotional or feel too sad. I had promised myself that I would not give in to the night before the baby leaves blues this time. Dammit.
Walked in the house to see the kid futzing with the new phone Carl bought him that afternoon, (see I cook and cry….dad buys electronics) then looked to the kitchen to see if there was soup fixins awaiting me. “I went with Ecco’s” Jeremy grinned and went back to playing with his new gadget. I was a little surprised seeing as I drive past his beloved pizza joint every day on my way home, I had thought they would just have me swing by and pick it up but no, neither he nor Carl wanted to add any more time to my drive. They let me drive home and Carl bounced off to pick up Jeremy’s Ecco’s Special. Thus leaving me….alone, with the kid on the eve of his leaving. “Keep your shit together Sam” my mantra playing in a loop as I settled down beside my handsome, phone futzing son.
Basketball a welcome distraction, the cool gin & tonic I had poured myself a liquid partner in courage and I leap into some idle banter with the baby. We talked about his plans for the rest of the evening, what he did that day, when he was scheduled to be back at work and a little about his upcoming move in May. Easy, kept it light and easy…I could do this. Gin in my belly causing me to settle my guard, cheering and whistles coming from the huge flashing box keeping the thoughts of feeling sad far, far away. It felt just like any other night, not the last night, that was until Jeremy, who like myself is not a terribly cuddly creature, moved the remote control from the cushion between us on the couch, swung his long legs to the side and rested his head in my lap. Felt the knot forming in my throat but fought the urge to scoop him up…like I could anyway, or smother him with the years of kisses I’d been storing away, holding on to, just in case he needed them. Instead I took a sip of my drink, gently rubbed his man sized arms and let my nails run across the hairline I had kissed a million times. I could feel his shoulders melt and puddle against my leg and in the sweetest tone Jeremy whispered, “You’re my favorite” the knot nearly choking the air from my throat, my heart ripping a little but so determined not to wreck this moment or hurt his heart in any way, I stroked that hairline again and whispered “Oh baby, you’re my favorite too” No more words needed. We sat like that for a few more minutes, silent but knowing.
Jeremy and I found ourselves alone on the couch once again, this time it was nearly 1:00 AM, both of us with heavy eyes but not wanting to go to bed just yet, just sitting beside our favorite, no words, just knowing. I knew I was seconds from losing it, I stood and gave my customary, “Alright the baby. I’m going to bed” just didn’t want to ruin anything, make this harder for him, by seeing me cry. He seemed to grow as he stood from the couch, the same couch where just hours before he was my tiny little man again, resting his head on my lap. Now he was tall, grown and the handsome young man that I was going to have to say goodbye to in the morning. That knot, yeah it was back. We leaned in for our goodnight hug, one kiss on each cheek and a kiss on my forehead…always, this has always been my greeting and my goodbye with Jeremy, our arms wrapped extra tight around each other, my head resting upon his shoulder, this time it was me melting and my son scooping me up.
I managed to make it to my room before the tears just broke lose. Not sobbing, not hurt, not even sad really…not sure how to describe it, it just is. Sure it hurts, just in the way that I fear letting Jeremy see my tears might make him think. Happy for him. Excited for him. So very proud of him. Lonely for him. Scared for him. Nervous for him. Spent the better part of my life feeling all those things and on the eve of his leaving, nuzzled into my bed, the tears landing upon my pillow, each one containing all I still have left to give him, hope. Hope that all he wishes comes true and the hope that he knows how very much he is loved.
Woke this morning, knot still there but “You’re my favorite” making me stand very tall and ready to hold it together, at least until I got to my car. Walked past Jeremy’s room, the comforter covered lump that makes me smile, the pile of folded clothes….not my favorite. Got my coffee, settled into the couch, sipped away, checked my email and fired off some work emails before logging on to Facebook. Fucking knot returned when the most recent friend status was six hours ago:
Jeremy Keith Dugan- “Wish this were easier”
That little ripping of my heart, yeah it gave a little more.
I too wish this were easier Baby….would give anything I have to make it so. I can’t. This hurts and never seems to get easier but, you are my favorite, always.
I can hear you packing as I type this
Not my favorite
I feel your leaving like an elephant on my chest
Not my favorite
I know that walking out the door this morning is going to rip fiercely into my heart
Not my favorite but….
Our couch is here
Our memories are here and
They are, along with you
Go get ‘em Baby
I love you so….