The Magic Show

Dear Andrew,

Most of our longest talks were done before you were 10 years old. Now you are 19 and tomorrow you move out. I know we won’t be having a talk then. You are excited, as you should be. You are pulling away and spreading out as you need to. You are growing in all of the ways I hoped you would when we were parked along Davis Road on my bike looking at the way-too-skinny horse and the baby goats. You are not the man I imagined all those years ago. But you are the man you were created to be and I am so proud of you.

You will never know how thankful I am that I was not able to start my family at the time and in the way I first thought I wanted to. If I’d been in control, someone else’s heart would be bursting over you right now. I thank God that it is my heart and that you are mine.

For 19 years our family has been growing into what it is now. For 12 years it has been the 6 of us. We’ve been figuring it out. Slogging through it. Tweaking the problems. Switching the rooms and the roommates. Traveling. Laughing. Changing. Learning. During these years, I have looked around the room many times, into the sea of brown eyes entrusted to me, and thought to myself: Right here, right now, we are magic. But magic grows up. Magic moves forward. And magic goes on to make a new form of itself down the road. Magic changes.

That part hurts me more than a little, I can assure you. For you kids, that magic wasn’t the perfect show. But for me it absolutely was. I could have sat on the front row and watched the exact same show on repeat for the rest of my life.

This afternoon, I was cutting onions and listening to the Rudy soundtrack, neither of which I recommend to moms whose children are moving into a dorm the next day, and I was thinking. You are not even leaving town, which makes my melancholy feel like unjustified whining. Why does this even bother me? Why would I feel emotional about it? I’ll see you. You’re local. Even so, there are a few things that make this feel like a surgical wound.

1. I’ve loved “us” for so long. I’ve loved every stage. I haven’t longed for anything different. Different may be better. Change will likely be joyful. But it will still be the end of our current dynamic. It will still be changing magic. I think it’s okay for me to mourn that for a minute or a year.

2. I will never feel like I did enough. I had 19 years, but still feel it wasn’t enough to prepare you for everything life may hurl at your awesome head of hair.

3. I will miss you. I count on you. I like who you are. No one can replace you. Without you, we are less “us.”

The day you went to Kindergarten, I sat all morning in a chair with a newborn on my lap and cried. It felt like you had walked away from me. It felt like my time with you was so short. 14 years later, I find myself cutting onions and listening to Rudy and thinking the same things all over again.

The universe in 2020 has dealt some harsh blows to a whole lot of people. Some of those may still land hard against me, because Covid continues to hover and the world is shifting and groaning through instability and growth. But what I will most remember is that I was given 6 extra months with you. 6 extra months of magic. The world shut down and the families came home and for just a little longer, I was able to sit on the front row of my favorite show. With you.

My time with you has been very short. But it has been magical like I cannot describe. I am ready for you to walk away now. And I’ll still be standing here when you come back.

Go make your own magic.