It’s cool and rainy today and I can see the change in the leaves as I look over the valley below. Things look, feel and smell different from even just yesterday.
There are obvious changes in our lives right now – my youngest turning 10, my oldest in high school, my second in middle school enjoying the freedom of moving from class to class and having a locker. Little changes in the grand scheme of things but huge in their worlds. Changes that have put us a little off-balance but they’re workable. We’re all still together.
But at my sister’s house, her oldest left for the Marines this weekend. Not a small insignificant change but the rock your world kind. She gets up in the morning to a room full of his things but not his presence. Her baby no longer lives with her and she asks questions.
Was he ready to go?
Did I do what needed to be done to prepare him to leave?
Will he want to come back?
Will he miss us?
What should I have done differently?
Can I get a do-over?
But we only really get that one chance. We do the best we can as parents and hope it’s enough. We hope they have fond memories of the life we’ve given them. We hope they have enough money to cover therapy for the times we screwed up!
As you know, with a scan on my schedule for next week, I begin to get nervous and ask:
Am I doing enough?
Am I enough?
But with no current answer to those questions, I simply watch the seasons change. I have no idea where we will be at this same time next year. What my children will go through between now and then.
As they get older, I hope that we’ve done well. As I watch my nephew bravely leave home, I hope that we’ve given them the tools they need to move on – to exist in an orbit in which we aren’t at the center.
As I watch the colors turn and know we are heading into a darker colder season, I can’t help but think it also brings the hope I am looking for.
Clean layers of snow will cover dead grass and fallen leaves. Long dark nights will give way to gorgeous snowy days full of ice crystals floating in the bright winter sun.
And we will be given our clean slate.