This photograph is dated 12 years and 2 months ago. Sean was 5 years old and we were waiting for the school bus - the very first one he would ever get on. He was headed for kindergarten and even though there is a bright smile on my face, I would spend most of that morning, missing him and thinking about how fast time passes. Little did I know...
The small garden behind us is full of marigolds and mums and lamb's ears we picked out together and planted that summer, just the two of us. He always loved digging in the dirt and would demand hours of my time in the sandbox out back. I would make mountains, and he would make tunnels through them and bridges across them. I would dig holes and he would fill them endlessly with water or rocks or pieces of the evergreen tree that shaded us every afternoon. I remember it all so clearly.
This is the thing about a mother's heart. It stores up a lifetime of things no one else remembers or was a part of. It holds tightly to that tiny hand that stole into yours without a sound when the little boy was unsure of himself. It remembers the sound of a sweet voice, asking if it was okay to check your "bug pwessure" as he held a plastic cuff and scratched you with the velcro while trying to make it stick. It wraps itself around him when you lock the two of you in the bathroom because he was up all night coughing so hard that only a really steamy shower would make it stop and the door had to stay closed on the two of you, to make it happen. It stores, it holds, it remembers, it wraps, it locks. Those things make for a fierce and everlasting love.
My oldest son taught me that love knows no distance. That coming together is even more joyous when you can't be together all the time. That growing up and moving out is a good and important process and does not diminish, but rather... expands my horizons and makes the world just a little bit bigger and full of even more people to love.
This child... my Sean... taught me that love just might give me the ability to see across dividing lines without judging. To listen in a way that truly hears - without trying to make my own voice be heard first. To get in the sandbox and start making tunnels and bridges and to be very careful not to smash what we built in the first place. That sickness happens and when you love, you get in there and sit on the cold hard floor while steam fills your lungs and tears flow down your cheeks until it is better.
Yesterday, he chose a college. Both his older brother and his grandpa were with us as we wandered around walking through his future and I hung back a little quiet... watching, absorbing, thinking.
I guess I'm learning everything I need to know right here, within the four walls of my own home. Everything. And when I step outside of it... I hope that education makes the world a better place somehow.