It was T minus 2 days and counting and I was sinking fast. I went over to the Mouse’s house to borrow an air mattress and I had barely walked in the front door when she asked me the one question I didn’t want to answer.
“How’re you holding up?”
“Don’t ask,” I said, the tears welling up in my eyes. I tried to catch myself, but it was too late. The floodgates had opened.
When floodgates open, I mean really open, there’s no holding back. It’s not a trickle or a controlled stream released in gentle proportion to the vessel that has been appointed to hold it. No. A flood is messy, uncontrollable and overwhelming. And yet there it was, pouring out all over the Mouse’s kitchen floor. And it was ugly. Darth Vader ugly. The kind of ugly dark side that we all have but try not to show, especially to anyone we still want to like us. And so the Mouse and I did the only thing we could do, given the circumstances. We sat in it.
In just a few short days, my son was graduating from high school. My baby boy who had just learned to walk and talk and tie his shoes. The little guy who was sticking his tooth under the pillow for the tooth fairy and wobbling around the Valley Vista parking lot, trying hard not to fall as he learned to ride a two wheeler. That same toe-haired cutie who learned to play the clarinet and won the 6th grade Spelling Bee. That little guy was g-r-a-d-u-a-t-i-n-g.
It was T minus 2 days and counting and I was feeling sorry for myself.
I was swimming in a flood of regrets. And disappointments. And “what ifs”. I was drowning in fear and worry and sadness. I was a mother looking in the mirror and wondering if I had done enough. If I had done it right and facing the awareness that I had, in fact, run out of time.
She listened for a long time. She’s a good friend that way. And after I had finished, after I had emptied the contents of my emotionally messy sea onto her kitchen floor she said the only thing she could, the only thing a real friend would say. The very thing I didn’t want to hear but needed to.
Enjoy what is. Enjoy this moment. Be proud of what you have done, what he has done. Don’t worry about the “what ifs”, at least not today. There’ll be plenty of time for that tomorrow. Today is good. Today is great. Enjoy it.
On Sunday afternoon surrounded by friends and family, as I sat under the magnificent oak trees, I thought about my friend’s advice. It was a magnificent afternoon, a celebration of accomplishments. Of learning to walk and tie his shoes, of riding bikes and spelling bees, of Algebra and AP History and poetry. It was a celebration of learning how to tie a tie and shake a hand, of knowing what it means to be a teammate and work at something together. It was a day filled with pride and excitement and gratitude, a celebration of all that is good, and it was a day I will never forget.
Sometimes you need a kick in the pants. That’s what friends are for.