One already cleaving, the other just recently taken his vow.
Only daughters left, beauties- in- waiting.
Somewhere between his third and fourth year the middle one packed a backpack, put on his dad’s old camping hat and announced through a grin shoved to one side of his face,
“Mom, I’m leaving.”
This was not a child bent on running away.
He was going on a journey and he had to get to it.
I watched him that day, from the kitchen door, confident, smiling;
He will only go so far.
But when he made his way down to the driveway he never looked back. My heart skipped concern. The boy fixed his eyes on the broken pavement before him and never saw the pickup truck slow to a stop right in front of him.
This is it. This is when he will cry and come running back to me.
He did not run. He did not come back to me.
My boy lifted his eyes to assess the grill of the truck and then stepped to the right of it and put his eyes back on the ground, the beat-up hat sliding over his face and he proceeded to walk forward.
It was I who did the running that day.
Down the dirt driveway I went, rocks flinging from my feet and a mama voice coming from my mouth, the pound pound pounding of my heart screaming two terrifying realizations: there will be more cars coming and my son meant what he said about leaving.
I should have known.
I should have known when he repeatdly snuck into the car to “drive” it only to kill the battery so many times the man from the towing company recognized his face.
I should have known when he found purpose in packing his dad’s old lunch box, how he purposed his body on the stairs-turned truck, and how he purposed to say good-bye.
I should have known when he would lean against the windowsill, chin barely skimming the edge of it, placing little cars in a line to send them to destinations that lived only in imagination.
This one, the one in the middle, who would hold my hand and my heart tight for twenty three years.
This one, the one in the middle, who would jump and climb and dance and say, “Mom, watch me!”
In the backyard tree, on the trampoline, from a theatre stage, and an airport window I watched him and he watched me.
The one who would tell me his secrets and dreams and confessions and fears since the beginning of his own words and then would skedaddle.
Off to the woods or into the shire, past mountain ranges through spanish speaking places and over oceans to sleep in asian hut dwellings.
He is a Traveler, a boy bent toward adventure and love.
And now he has them both.
He is leaving and cleaving and I am letting him go.
Letting him go tell another his secrets and dreams and confessions and fears.
Letting him go to the one he was made for.
It is right and good for a mother to love a son fiercely.
It is right and good for a mother to hold him loosely in the fierceness so he is free to cleave and to cling to another that is his counterpart.
I stand with the Traveler’s father, opposite his bride and her parents, behind a curtain of paper garlands and golden leaves swirling light as I witness their first communion as husband and wife.