I’m not a big science fiction buff
(although one of my writer’s group friends is delighting us these days with some chick lit sci fi romance – “Jando, I need jando to start my day!”)
and time travel has never been a real draw for me.
I really enjoy the comforts of this life I’m living and there’s no other place and time I’d like to experience–except maybe the made-for-TV Michael Landon version of Little House on the Prairie which, we all know, is a romanticized depiction of pioneer life. I just wanted Pa to be my dad and hear that wonderful laugh every day of my life.
When asked what famous dead person I’d like to hang out with back in the mists of time, my mind goes blank. I have no idea. Although, there’s every possibility that’s because the thought of having a conversation with such a person instantly ties my tongue in knots.
So, no. Time travel has never been a huge draw for me.
Today, there’s nothing I would like better than to go back in time about seventeen years.
Even a couple of months would do the trick.
Six weeks and one day ago my oldest son left for a five month student exchange in France. He worked very hard in the months leading up to his departure, getting his academic credits ahead of time and earning enough money to help pay for the trip, so it was a very sweet day for him when he finally got on that plane to adventure.
Not so much for Mama Bear.
A friend’s daughter did a similar exchange last year and my friend did a very good job of mapping out the emotional terrain for me. The week leading up to his departure would be hard. Check. The day he leaves will be horrible. And how! The week after he’s gone will be hard. Yup. And then the family will settle into a new normal. I didn’t believe this, but it was true. Life did go on and Sunday phone/skype conversations have become part of the weekly routine.
We settled fairly well into the new normal.
And then, suddenly, it was his 17th birthday. And he was half a world away.
I was not prepared for the emotional swampland this simple day – really no different from any other day – created. All week long, hidden pockets of quicksand have appeared out of nowhere to suck me under.
So, yes. A little dose of time travel would be lovely.
Please take me back to that magical moment when I first held him in my arms and he stared so calmly and wisely into my eyes.
Let me relive those roly-poly Buddha Belly days, the sweet little boyedness of him, the hugs and giggles and amazing, nimble-fingered creations (of popsicle sticks and lego and Knex and musical notes) and every bump and stumble on his way through adolescence.
I promise I’ll pay more attention.
I’ll be 100% present for every single moment.
Because I know now how fast it goes.
I finally understand how fleeting it all is.
And how lucky I am.
I’ll be reunited with my son in June and I’ll have another whole year with him before he moves out forever. And then, hopefully, a lifetime of celebrations and heartache shared with him as he makes his way in the world.
Many parents won’t experience the joys of those shared moments.
I have a very dear friend who lost her son to cancer at about the time he should have been striking out on his own. This sadness I am feeling is nothing compared to the grief of losing a child like that. Yet it’s the closest I can come to understanding the depth of my friend’s pain. I am so sorry for her loss and for the grief of other parents whose children have died. I know I have nothing to complain about.
So I won’t, but neither will I try to talk myself out of it. I’ve learned too well that strong emotions driven underground surface in other, not-very-constructive guises.
It’s a little embarrassing, especially when an outburst happens after someone at the dinner table asks for the mashed potatoes. These incredibly fluctuating feelings are random and irrational.
But then what’s rational about a mother’s love?
So I’ll allow myself to sit and weep over my keyboard as I write this and over his photo albums as I leaf through the pages and over the empty spot at the table until this wave of tears has passed.
And then I’ll return to being grateful for the time I have had with him and the time I can spend with him via technology during these five months of separation and the time I will have with him once he comes back home.
And grateful, too, for the wee bit of time traveling I can do via my photo albums.
I love you, Gabriel.
I miss you.
And you better start preparing yourself for the monster hug coming your way in June.