Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always been a crier. I’m the woman you see weeping in the aisle at Hallmark when she finds the perfect card, I’ve been known to cry at television commercials and even signs on telephone poles reading “lost cat.” Even so, sometimes my own reaction to things takes me by surprise. Like today.
Tonight I did some light housekeeping while dinner was simmering on the stove. I was vacuuming the front windowsills (yes, I do this quite often) when I glanced out the window and noticed my neighbor had pulled into his driveway. He was getting his messenger bag out of the car and as he headed for his front porch, I saw that his face was lit up with a huge grin. I turned and saw what he was smiling at--his little boy. This tiny cherub of about two was standing behind the storm door with his face pressed against the glass and waving as hard as he could at his adoring father. I thought of all the times my own son did the very same thing … and I lost it.
I’m still getting used to being an Army mom. I have good days, and I have far-from-good days. Today was the latter. Immediately I was overwhelmed with memories of my son at that age, boasting his beautiful smile when I’d approach our front door at night. His sweet grin could erase the worst day at the office in two seconds flat. Nothing that happened at work mattered the moment my son ran into my arms and hugged me.
My immediate reaction was to run outside and tell my neighbor to hug his son a little longer and tighter tonight—just because. Of course I didn’t because it’s not my place to do that. Time is fluid for parents of small children and sometimes the days run together. Unfortunately, I’ve had to that learn that it’s only when time (and life) shifts that we realize how fleeting those days really were. We can’t get those days back, and we just have to appreciate them for what they were.
I wiped my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt and closed the curtains. As I headed down my hallway with the vacuum trailing behind me, I paused at the table where several framed photos of my son taken over his last leave stood in attention. Same beautiful smile, same special boy, same grateful mother who loves him ferociously no matter how many miles it will take him to get to the front door again.