Like the others before him, this son sleeps deep, snoring, heavy into his night thoughts, his weekend away. He comes here tired, worn out from life. We feed his belly, he finds the hot tub and the beach, even the stars at night, a cat to pet and love. All the food and time in our quiet starts unwinding his shoulders, lifting worry from his eyes.
We talk at dinner, or on the deck, or on the road to the beach, catching up on his life, and his adventures. I listen, and rarely advise, though this journey of his is a familiar story, told by the sons who have come before, and the sons who will come later.
I practice patience, waiting for a pause, or a question.
“I might be lost.”
“What should I do?”
I do not know, but I can offer praise, and understanding, and tell my own story a bit.
“You are not the first on this path,” I try to say, knowing that he must take his own steps, and find his own road.
“You have the tools you need. Just look inside of you,” I offer, sometimes out loud.
And, he must fall and skin his knee sometimes, that bit of blood marking his own journey. I can offer the bandage, but I cannot always prevent the fall.
I look down on his sleeping face, seeing how he has grown, knowing, deep inside of me, that he has all he needs inside of him to be the man he wants to be. I can only help him find his patience, and his stamina, and his courage, and then he will walk his path with strong legs and a loving heart.
I can only be behind him, offering a few words of encouragement, and unlimited love, knowing that will be enough, and he will blossom and come into his own.
Our time now at an end, we have one last meal, he, again, eating as if we’ve starved him all weekend long. Bottomless, in many ways, he thinks he might, finally, be full.
I drop him off at work, his week just beginning. We hug, one final time, and he whispers “thanks”.
Any more words and we would have both cried.
Shoulders back, the old smile again, he is on his way again, renewed.
Neal Lemery, July 8, 2013