The coming is wrenching and beautiful and euphoric.
A warm, squeaky bundle is laid in your arms on the day he arrives, and all the world stops. He has tiny eye lashes, tiny fingers, tiny toes, and a delightful amount of hair. He's wide-eyed and fully awake. For the first time, you look in his eyes, and that moment is sealed forever. He's hungry. You cradle him, nestle him in. You love him more than your mind can comprehend. Emotions stir deep tears and great hope and indescribable gratitude.
He's yours. You get to take him home and keep him. Bathe him, dress him, snuggle him, nurse him. Right away, he teaches you who he is. Easy-going, laid back, pretty chill. It surprises you how quickly you learn his language. Soon, like second nature, you're response is what he needs: a different view, a pat on the back, a fresh diaper, sleep. You could do nothing but look at him for hours.
The day he leaves home is so far off it never even enters your thoughts.
How could it be possible that, in one glance away, suddenly he's a man? Tall, with wild blonde curls and a confident stride. Sure in his direction, yet easy-going, laid-back, pretty chill. His language is engraved in you now, as familiar as if it were your own. His preferences, mannerisms, aversions. How he hangs his gear, how he keeps his things on the bathroom shelf, what he wears. Even his sleep pattern is familiar. And that deep voice? You could pick it out of a million.
The going is wrenching and beautiful and euphoric.
On the day he leaves, you walk in the door after a long, exhausting run, and there, in morning's light is a wide-eyed, excited guy who's gear is filling up the living room floor. Backpacks, hiking boots, water bottles, camp pad, sleeping bag, duffle bags, bedding, hard hat. His electronics are organized on the table and his playlist is turned up. By summer's end, he'll smell of pine and dust and grit. He'll grow calloused and tender. Somehow, in spite of his parents, he's taken a beautful path. You love him more than your mind can comprehend.
And when, in that very moment, while standing in the sea of his gear, the first lines of the current song come through his speakers, and you realize what song it is, your breath catches, and you lose it. You look at him, all warbled and watery; he looks at you, and that moment is sealed forever.
To the kitchen, hold onto the edge of the sink, look out the window and watch the creek. Deep breaths. Pull out the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. He's hungry. Fry the bacon. Pour the batter onto the griddle. Deep breaths. Glance over your shoulder, see the piles grow. Let the tears dry. He's got this.
In late afternoon, you follow, mom & dad, and watch that dirty black Jeep park in front of an old stone house. Upstairs, tucked under an eave, is a room with an empty bed and dresser waiting for him. He slings his backpack over his shoulder, boots swinging from where they're tied. Under his arm are his sleeping bag and camp pad. A smile is across his face. He stops, hugs you both, then turns toward the door, toward the threshold of the next phase of life. He turns back once more and waves.