Sunday, April 26, 2009

The "Last" Things on My Mind

I’m exhausted after an all day rowing regatta. Not that I went anywhere near a boat myself. (Um, no, can you say Aquatic Catastrophe?)

I spent the day watching Son #2 rowing boats. He rowed in five races in a seven-hour period. A fairly exhausting affair for me, sitting in the sun on the shoreline, watching him. But him? Meh. He handled it pretty damn well, even on the mere two hours of sleep he got last night.

In the early days of his rowing career, he’d have rested up, gone to bed at a respectable hour. But given the choice last night of sleeping or attending a prom and the now required event of “after prom,” well, is there any choice to be made, for a high school senior?

Not that it was his last high school dance ever. No, that one is tonight. Another prom, with another female friend (never an actual DATE, according to him), from another high school, which will also run until just mere hours before sunrise.

This one, from which he will also return with a flushed face and bleary eyes from hours of innocent fun (oh, so unlike those unsupervised “after prom” events of yesteryear), this one will be his last.

His last high school dance. This revelation will stream through his thoughts. In between laughing at a friend’s crude jokes on the corner of the dance floor and managing an awkward slow dance in a stiffly fitting tuxedo, he will pause and think, “This one is my LAST."

And while he’s living these bittersweet experiences of late-senior year, I’m right there with him.

Rising from bed at 3:30 this morning to drive him to Columbus (just as he was walking through the door from last night’s dance), I greeted the two-hour dark highway drive with a different attitude than I had for any regatta over the past four years. It was accompanied by none of my usual bitching and moaning (though he fell promptly asleep in the car and would have been oblivious to it anyway). No, this drive was different. This was my last early morning to get up and make a long drive to spend a long day cheering him on in an activity of which, four years ago, I had no understanding let alone any interest. A few regattas remain, but this was the last to require that very early morning sacrifice of me (and “sacrifice” is no overstatement for those who know what a morning person I am NOT).

I found myself wishing he were awake on the drive. Not that he would have been the wittiest and most intelligent conversationalist, given his all-nighter event. But I—I had so much to say, about all the “last” things that were on my mind.

I was remembering the last high school mother-son dance, and how proud I was that he was the one doing the pulling toward the dance floor. I was recalling his last mock trial event, which I sadly missed but which I eagerly relived through his relay of the team’s victory. And I was already looking ahead to the last time we would be together in his high school, as he crosses the stage in a cap and gown and is handed that roll of parchment signifying the end of one era and beginning of another.

The “last” things are even more significant to me now, because Son #2 is MY last. His older brother has already moved out (though not necessarily moved on, because they do come back, don’t they, especially when they still live in town and want a good meal)?

In just four months, though, I will officially be an empty-nester. My emotions run fairly fluid. Shall I celebrate or sob? Right now, my inclination is alternating between the two.

Who knows how I’ll actually feel when I hear them call my youngest son’s name at his graduation ceremony, or when I drop him off at his (yet undetermined) college campus, drive away, and have to count down the weeks before I see him again. I’ll either be celebrating or sobbing. Likely, a combination of both. For some time to come.

But worrying about a happy but overtired young man arriving safely home after a dance at 4 a.m.? No, I’ll be sound asleep most nights, from here on out. Because that, thankfully, will be the last thing on my mind.

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