Tuesday, 19 March 2019

That second goodbye

Each morning, I see my teenager to the front door to send him on his way to school. Each time, we pray and embrace. Sometimes we resolve the conflicts that arise from the early morning rush, at other times there may be a last minute exchange about the details and timings of the day and at what time we will reconvene, occasionally there's a last minute prank or a little banter but each and every time, I stand by the door and I wait. 

I wait for his head to glance up, I wait for our eyes to lock and for his hand to rise to wave me farewell. I watch as he looks ahead, there's a pause and then it comes again; that second wave. The one that signifies a final goodbye before I close the door and disappear behind it. Each time (of late at least) it feels like the snip of the umbilical cord where one becomes two in a final act. This boy-man of mine, neither man, neither boy but still my little one. I will carry that second goodbye with me always, in a pocket near my heart just like a good luck charm (if I were to believe in such things), I will tuck his cockeyed half smile up my sleeve for safe keeping in case of needing to draw close to it later on, whilst smiling my own half smile thinking of the many times I have watched my own mother tuck a hanky up her left hand wrist. His purposeful stride, that mirrors his fathers and his fathers before, I will note down hurriedly in the notebook of my mind so that I will come upon words that describe it in detail in the days and weeks and months that are to come.  

Like a super eight film, I see flashes of colour and pop up events that inform of his thirteen years alongside me thus far. I glimpse that first morning feed at the newborn phase, the toddler years curled up with his arms ajar because of the chicken pox in his armpits, where only Winnie the Pooh on repeat would bring comfort, I snatch at the little boy with a raspberry on the end of each finger that devours four, five six ... nine and ten one after another and bares the crimson evidence all across his delighted face. I look over the fence at the child who finds the nookiest of nooks and reads and reads and reads only to forget about the love of reading and then to discover it again and again and forget it. And remember it once more. I cross the road and I see the boy that motions for me, eager to tell me his news, what he likes to eat, what he likes to watch, what he likes to listen to, what he believes strongly in, what makes him laugh, what makes him sad. He calls, then shouts, them whispers, then speaks and tells me softly, openly: 'I don't always want you to cross over the road without me. I can cross alone but we're both headed home so let us walk together.' I squeeze his hand in mine (recalling that it was once smaller than mine) and I whisper to him, 'Let us walk together, let us walk together, let us walk together.' Just then, I hear the clunk of the front door closing, I feel the weight of it on the palm of my hand and I realise all at once, that his life and mine, all of it flashed before my eyes in just a few seconds. In that window between the second goodbye and the close of the door, right there, like a dream. Like that moment between dream and reality, where you're undecided to which world you belong. Like a super eight, super sweet, super fly story of him and I, captured without us ever knowing.  

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