By Debra Bartholomew
I watched him with a smile as he waved goodbye and climbed into the car. He was off to the Anniversary Mass of Archbishop Jason Gordon with a friend of my mom’s. I was so immensely proud of my son. Proud of this young man who, according to many, should not be able to even do what he was doing now.
Going off without me.
And just like that, it hit me.
Not consciously at first, but boy, did it hit me.
My son, my first-born…my piece of my heart who would be, should be, according to many, dependent on me always.
My son, for whom I have always been present.
To fight bullies.
To cheer on.
To massage hands broken by essay writing.
To lift spirits.
To read textbooks and explain.
To refashion lessons.
To redefine the word ‘can’t.’
To redefine the word ‘never’.
Me, he’s going off without me.
And he turns and smiles and waves goodbye.
Then, like a thief in the night, no! Like a sudden thunderstorm that breaks with no warning, the torrent of tears come, they flood my face like a downpour and I find myself wracked with sobs.
How? How could he leave so easily, so calmly? I used to read his anxiety, sense his angst. I used to prepare the field. The players. The scene.
In the 15 years that I have done this role since he was diagnosed, I’ve always prepared him. Prepared him to eventually not need me at his side. I mean, as a parent, isn’t it this that I’m supposed to do?
But all the time I’ve been preparing him, who was preparing me?
Have I become obsolete in his eyes? Am I like the rope that tethers and anchors the boat to shore but that gets cast off when it’s time to sail?
And that’s when I see it….I’m not the rope…I am the anchor. Yes, when it’s time to sail, I am no longer needed, but I am not left behind. I am tucked safely away and taken along. I am never far away.
And his words come to mind and I find solace. “Picture your life is like Mt Everest or something. And you’re walking up to it. And you have a huge backpack. What would you carry in there? You’d carry your food and camping essentials, just like in life, you’d carry your knowledge. But what we all need to carry in our backpacks is INSPIRATION.
We’ve all been at that hurdle that we just can’t get over. What we need is the inspiration of a special someone to get us through the day.
And that’s what my MOTHER is.”
Hmmm, guess I was right there with him all along.