With ribbon thread through cut swallowtail flags from a nine year olds’ t -shirts, (kept for his brother), and small jumpers from his newborn days (kept for nostalgia) – I made bunting. I hung this around the conservatory window-walls where we held his family birthday party instead of the garden because; English summer. Some things never change in life, the English weather is not one of them.
Surely it was only a few days ago he wore those jumpers for a couple of weeks, before his body left them behind as no longer enough. I have been running to catch up with him ever since. I didn’t want to hear it when he was younger, inwardly eye-rolling as the wiser mothers comment “they don’t stay small for long” when exhausted from labour cries of “how long?” and sleepless nights praying “when will?”. Now my pride hates to admit it was true.
I treasured the opportunity to throw perhaps one last party for him and created themed activities and games around what the age of eighteen means he can do. We all celebrated him with temporary tattoos, pirate name changes – voting for our favourites and blood red jelly in syringes (because at 18 you can give blood). The mix of childhood fun and marking of time, mirroring the dichotomy I felt at this time.
Pain in change
I muse over the change in life with a melancholy pain. Why do we wistfully remember and wish for days gone by? They weren’t particularly the “good old days”, or didn’t seem so at the time, as I look back do I reframe it with a rosy filter? What is it that I miss? What is it that I long for?
I miss those chubby hands in mine, the same ones throwing bread to the ducks, then patiently building lego space ships, writing handcrafted cards then essays. My eyes no longer roll but well. I miss the purpose found in him needing me and now I ache with a job somewhat finished. An ache that is both a satisfaction and a yearning.
Change and gratitude
Growth and change provide a gentle release from providing support. Fresh freedom and a strength in us both that only comes through the passage of growth. Life’s challenge to us: move through change, keep up, let the waves of change move, yet support our head, like a buoy bobbing above depth that threatens to pull us to the inertia of the sea bed. I pause a memory of hands holding scooter bars as his text message chimes in, and hold both our past and our present in gratitude.