My son Al

June 28th, 1995 was a Wednesday.  My contractions had started before the sun came up and at the hospital the midwives were waiting to help me through labor.  Albert Louis Schuitema was born that afternoon.  His eyes were so dark they were almost black.  Looking into them, I fell into a universe soft with love.   It was difficult looking away.  He seemed like a sage, an old soul still between worlds.  I felt awe and wonder as I took him in.  His tiny arms and hands spasmed as his nerves adjusted to the transition from the womb to the birthing room.  Time seemed to slow as Albert greeted his grandparents, cousins and aunt.  When he was given back to me, he fell asleep in my arms.

It seems incomprehensible that he is going to be nineteen tomorrow.  He is away with friends as I vacillate in time, caught in moments that span almost two decades.  He would tease me about my tears if he were here.  It is so hard to let him go.  Sweet, considerate, loving and warm – that is my son, Al.  He is no longer the precocious little boy in his red vinyl boots and his Power Ranger costume.  Lately when he leaves, I rush to hug him, hoping to convey how much I love him.  He patiently hugs me back, smiles and turns to go, already inhabiting the future.

Transitions

My oldest son left for a week yesterday.  He’s vacationing with a friend and his family, people I really care about but don’t reach out to enough.  I had tears in my eyes when he left, even though it isn’t “cool” to miss your teenager. (especially when it’s only for a week)  He bring so much light and life to our house though.  Nothing seems quite as vivid or bright when he’s not here even though he can be the most irritating person on earth at times. (can’t we all, really?)  It’s a transition, one we’d hoped his younger brother would be able to make this year by going to camp.  It didn’t work out, but it was a start.  Our children start leaving us the day they are conceived, and as we move through life with them we constantly work at learning to say “goodbye.”  It is a lesson my mother and father taught our family so well.  They never held us back, never let fear keep us from having opportunities (like me going to Israel in college during the time the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon were bombed).  I am so thankful for that.  That ability to let us go, then welcome us back, meant everything.  It is one of the most important lessons they taught me.  I’m still learning it today.