The Day Came
Yesterday, there was this moment. I looked at my oldest driving my car, the youngest sitting shotgun. Lex and I are the shortest of the group, so we shared company in the backseat. I had been dozing. The huge manly laugh from in front woke me. I lay still and watch undetected. I knew this day would come, but I never understood how beautiful it would be. Let me back up just a little.
I can’t remember baseball not being a part of my life. A fanatic in truth. Years ago, I used to take the two oldest guys to Candlestick park because the tickets were only $4.00. I listened to any game I could get on the radio for years . Every mile of the 225 miles a day I commuted, it was my company. After I stopped being able to sleep at night successfully, I would listen to the same game I heard earlier at the midnight’s replay.
The interest from the guys waned in their teenage years. I loved the game so much, I would go by myself. It became my religion for so long. And then? About four years ago, the bug took root in my oldest and youngest. They now know way more about the teams, the players, the game. So when I got four field level tickets for the A’s on my birthday, it was a no brainer. I would take a day for just my guys and myself. A summer's day, my guys, now men, and me going to a baseball game. I knew it would be fun, but I never thought it would feel the way it did.
I can’t remember the last time just the four of us did anything together. It took the youngest guy to grow up a bit before the others would look at him more like a peer than a pest. I underestimated how synchronistic they had become. I just watched and listened. They talked about film, the game, trips to take, dreams to reach for. They shared their lives. I have waited for a version of this for so long. I figured I would know when it showed itself, but I never dreamt it would be so wonderful, freeing, a little sad.
I realize that last statement doesn’t exactly fit with the rest of this piece, but let me explain. I have always thought that when this day appeared, it would mean at the least a modicum of independence has shined its light on the McLeod boys. Their individuality from me means just that. The cord I have been chewing at for awhile now has finally severed. The blood that used to surge between mom and sons has been cut. Lives separate from need, from nourishment. Standing solo from me. The three of them are comfortable in this group. It is me standing in their enlarged shadow, a darkness that has wrapped around my heart, squeezing with its invisible tendrils, choking the life from my marrow. I am completely alone. I say nothing. Their laughter is balm for me. My breathing slows, and I will be alright. I suppose this is how they felt when my hand was placed in the curve of their metaphorical back, giving them both permission and a shove to cross the finish line in the race that we have fought as a unit of three making a family. But now I am splintering the line that connected us. I know it is the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make me feel better at this time.
The game was as magical as the drive into the city. We left a little early so my youngest could get to work by 6. They have made it to the first significant finish line. They are so happy to be there. I know that feeling because that was me leaving home at such an early age. But I would not be deterred. Is this how my mom felt as I walked onto that plane in 1981? As kids, our eyes are perfect, but we really don’t see a thing.
On the way home, I looked at Lex. His beard a little too long, but it gave the announcement that he is a man. Where did this tear come from? He doesn’t seem to notice it on the hand that I use to gently place his cheek against my palm. The stubble is not too firm. The reddish highlights are evident if the sun hits his face just so. Without fanfare, he covers my hand with his large hand. Maybe he does feel the tear. He takes my hand and kisses it so gently it brings me to my knees.
The day I have waited for came. It was in the package of a mom and her guys going to a baseball game. It wasn’t the victory I thought it would be like. It felt a little like I had hit a wall. And three figures walked on without me. I am forced onto a parallel path that is a little more frigid than the sunny path they so casually make their own.
It is pride with a small piercing point of sharp pain. No, it is a victory. I know I will grow to love our new roles. They sure do. How yesterday was just a heartbeat earlier. This is the cycle of life. I will now sit back and enjoy watching them. We are so close, I am so grateful for that, but it isn’t the same as a little guy in a diaper with a melted popsicle looking like a clowns smile has been painted on his face. “Need help hon?” I would ask.
“No mom.” A grown man’s voice comes back to me. Bringing me back from my reverie.
"I know,” I say with a silent catch in my voice. “I know.”