My dear friend sent me this link to a post by Ann Voskamp and while I should be doing 1,000 other things, I had to sit down and share it. She's got it so much rougher than I, this friend of mine. She just moved her son into his dorm. Her oldest is halfway through his undergraduate experience. Her daughter is in high school. The baby isn't far behind.
"And before the sun goes down, kids carry cobs up to the side porch and we sit there in this circle husking and I keep looking round at their sun-kissed faces, that's all I can think, my hands all full of these husks:
It's never the wasting of time that hurts so much as the wasting of ourselves." -Ann Voskamp
He walked through the door, into first grade and I couldn't help but see the man-child turning and waving goodbye--if I'm very lucky--as he disappears behind the door of some dorm on some college campus some eleven years from now.
It's all so short, so fleeting. These days. These pieces of an endless summer that always crash into autumn. These moments of cannon balls and snuggles and jokes that are supposed to be funny but aren't--until he giggles so hysterically that I can't help but laugh. I gaze upon his skin and I wish I could make it stay all roasted marshmallow forever. But I know that winter will steal its warm summer glow. The tan will fade as the homework and the commitments and the grind of life replace bleached blond hair with responsibility.
I want to run away.
To an island with perpetual sun and salt. A place where I can freeze time and they will fit in my arms forever. Because they are already lanky limbs and too many inches and it's only a matter of time.
The sun-kissed ruddy hue of the youngest will lighten. Dark chocolate replaced with a lesser concentration of cocoa, hidden under a snow suit and boots. Bare feet will not wiggle through grass and mud. Not, at least, until next year.
And in the waiting, in the hunting for popsicles and grubs and flowers to pick, they will grow older. Until, one day, I find myself searching for June without them. Time is illusion. Clocks tick their slow curse. It is only moment upon moment, building up until I find myself at the end of a journey.
But oh how time is also the window into the blessing of the real joy-giver.
Without the tock-tick of the pocket watch we wouldn't wait, with eager anticipation for the nine months to pass before we hold the precious life that will turn into lanky limbs and man-child. We would not experience the intense joy that comes from loving a son we had no part in creating. We'd know nothing of counting down minutes until, at last, we see him standing at the end of an aisle, ready to start life. Together.
Without the passing of summer into fall, we'd not know the hope of graduations and celebrations and grandchildren. Without autumn turning to the ice of winter, again and again, we'd lose sight of the sojourn. We'd begin to believe that this is our home. We'd forget, completely, that what we wait for, what we struggle for, is the absolute certainty of eternity. Everlasting summer, perhaps. Something even better, indeed.
We wake up. Each day. We watch them change from babies to boys and, one day, to men. We wrap an arm around the husband of our youth. His beard comes in speckled with gray, so he shaves it. Summer leaves. It circles around again. And we can know, even as we mourn its loss, that the real test is that we find a way not to waste ourselves.
That whatever the loss, whatever the cost, whatever tomorrow holds, we live it well.
And we teach them to dream, to love, to dance in the brilliant warmth of the sun. And to dance in the snow.