By: Mary Elder-Criss
The early morning silence was what awakened me. With a sense of alarm, I explore the house. As I near your bedroom, I identify the source with a sinking stomach. No snores or unintelligible words muttered in your sleep emanate from behind your closed door. No cell phone ringing, no drawers being rustled through, no bedsprings squeaking as you shift positions. No Bootsy Collins playing too loudly from your stereo. None of the usual clamor that signifies your presence is heard at all. It is the sound of letting go. It is the loudest quiet I have ever felt.
As I push open the door to your bedroom, the emptiness assaults me. The sight of my child's room, which is not my child's any longer, is an open tomb. Scattered belongings; a discarded T-shirt, a pair of socks, and a couple of books due back at the library litter the floor, leftovers from where you hurriedly packed before starting out on your four hour drive to Ohio. A reluctant laugh bubbles up inside of me through the tears. No matter how hard I tried to instill cleanliness in you, you were a lousy housekeeper. It is the first time I have seen your floor in years. I had forgotten what color the carpet was.
No longer will I sit here at my computer early in the morning pecking away and be disturbed by you. The morning ritual that involved you stumbling out of your bedroom, hair all awry, and pausing long enough by the study to mutter, "Morning, mom," is now a thing of the past. To think I would miss the sight of you unshaven, bleary-eyed and scratching, at the crack of dawn.
For the last eight months I have watched and listened as you and Rebecca planned your marriage and your future life together. Slowly, day by day, I lost a little more of you, but it was all right, because I knew every night, I'd still hear the crunch of your tires upon the gravel driveway. I'd still get to look upon your face before I told you "Goodnight." I'd still get to be "Mom."
I thought I was prepared. As the day for the wedding grew nearer, you spent more and more time with her. You were already gone, just using my house as a pit stop for food and sleep. Yet nothing prepared me for the silence. The absence of sound is deafening, yet my weeping soon shatters it.
I wander around your room, touching the remaining articles. A Beanie baby penguin sits sprawled, head nodding lazily to the side, on top of your fan. Yearbooks are stacked haphazardly on the floor, a pair of dirty socks lay forgotten under your bed, and a dismantled guitar you have been refinishing for months leans against one wall, neglected.
Bittersweet memories of you as a child flood my soul, and I impatiently wipe back the tears again. I whisper "I'm sorry," to the empty walls for the times in your life when I failed you as a parent. I hope you know how much I love you, how proud I am of you, and how blessed I consider myself to have you as my son. As the stubborn tears continue to fall, I speak a prayer of gratitude for the privilege of being your mom, and I ask the Lord to bless and keep you and Rebecca all the days of your life.
Turning out the light, I exit. Tomorrow I will begin the physical journey, which will bring me to Ohio for your wedding. I know I will cry then too, as I see you stand at the altar. I promise you that at least part of them will be tears of joy for you. But today…well today belongs to me, and I will weep alone here in the silence for myself.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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