Every day when I drop my son off at school I watch him enter the building through my rearview mirror. I’m sure it’s annoying to those behind me as I idle along the alley way at two miles an hour, but for me it’s that reassurance that he has made it in the doors. Without that time looking back I would find myself wondering what if – what if he didn’t make it inside. What if he needed me? Within a minute he slips inside the corridors of the school walls; and still that feeling of what if he needs me doesn’t pass. It’s a comfort but that comfort is brief.
I watch him, some mornings turning around, knowing I’m right there watching. He smiles that smile that melts my heart. Sometimes he blows me a kiss – incognito of course, he does have a reputation now at the age of eight that needs to keep intact. But I find myself always wanting to park the car and run up to him for one last hug. One more “I love you”. One more moment before I must share him with the world. For these days are growing dim of when I can keep that watchful eye over him. Soon I’ll be looking at the bigger rearview. One that involves looking back on the memories of when he was always at my side. And the fear of that moment grips me.
Not that I don’t want him to grow up. Chase his dreams. Find his path in for him in this life. But I know with that path will be times when I can’t assure he has made the journey unscathed. That he doesn’t need me; and if he does, will he turn around and look back at me?
Life has a way of finding us looking back in our rear-view.
We look back with wonder, awe, regret, sadness, joy. How did we ever get through those dark moments? What was that feeling felt when overwhelming joy embraced us? How did our children grow up so fast? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were in the delivery room? Why didn’t we say what we truly wanted to say? What if we took the opposite path? What if we tried harder, made more mistakes, trusted our instincts, gave in to love, followed our heart, valued deeper, gave more, trusted more, and believed more?
Recently we all looked back on the previous year; I looked back on mine with awe and wonder.
Awe at how we made it through this dark cloud in our lives with so many twists and turns of debilitating grief and pain, with, truly, only a few bumps and bruises along the way.
And my conclusion (Wonder!) is this: Because when we sat in our alley way of life, looking back, we caught a glimpse of a smile looking back at us.
Our family. Our friends. The gifts of a shoulder, a warm embrace, someone to pray with, or pray for. The feeling of love. The feeling that no matter what, we are not alone. One more look back, and on our way we go. Truly appreciating the moments at hand, and yet to be had.