The red berries sat snugly on the holly branch. Each holly leaf punctured the air with their lush green, prickly points. Birds dashed in and about the trees, perhaps in anticipation of Spring. Sunlight spilled into the classroom and dappled the industrial grade carpet. Each ray of light danced in the soundless, distilled space; dust motes rallied.
I sat in the empty classroom, awaiting my appointment, and stared out the window. My heart didn’t seem to understand that I was sitting quietly in a chair–instead, it clamored to jump out of my chest as if I’d just ran four miles. I breathed and tried to simultaneously feel the pulsing emotion and quiet its anxious beat.
The school nurse entered, smiling. I smiled in return. She sat and we began. I handed over my registration form which I’d carefully filled in two nights ago. Vaccinations current? Check. Paper work complete? Check. Proof of residency? Check.
I watched quietly as she double-checked Henry’s vaccination record. My eyes scanned the paper and noticed each scrawled date, each notation indicating of the site of each shot. I remembered the bluest eyes welling with tears with each of those notated shots. I remembered the chubbiest cheeks shining as they caught each tear.
The nurse shuffled the papers and thanked me for coming. We both smiled again.When I stood, Henry was registered for Kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN.
This morning, I awoke with a start. Early morning light filtered in through my bedroom window. The bare tree branches softly held the evidence of early morning sun. I padded out of my room so as not to awake Hubby. The house slept; Abby and Henry slept. I descended each hardwood stair into the morning which awaited me. I donned my ankle-length, baby blue parka (which I lovingly refer to as my floor-length sleeping bag), and opened the garage doors. My faithful down parka and my pajamas , still warm and wrinkled with sleep, kept me snug as the winter chill tugged at my ankles.
I dragged the first of the recycling bins down the driveway. At that same time, my across-the-street neighbor did the same.
Good morning, he greeted.
Morning! I returned.
How are the kids? he queried.
So good, I replied. How are you guys surviving the boys’ senior year?
Chase finished one college interview yesterday, and the other two boys finished their interviews last week. We have early acceptance at two universities and awaiting an answer from another, he said, with hints of pride and terror puffing ever-so-slightly from his chest.
Wow I replied. Congratulations.
I turned and walked back toward the house. I think I may have been sprinting, unconsciously wanting to get back to a life that didn’t include college essays and interviews.
It all happens in an instant, the masses tell me. You blink and years are gone. College and Kindergarten are here, living right across the street from each other. Some indications of time’s inexorable passage are subtle–the first dry nighttime diaper, the first wiggly tooth, the first solo play date. Those firsts begin to blurr with lasts: the last white, cotton onesie, the last nighttime snuggle, the last mom-can-cure-all hug. Others rage more obviously.
The entire summer before Abby started Kindergarten, I was a mess. The first time I tried to buy her school supplies, I had to leave Target because I couldn’t see the list through my curtain of tears. I am walking this cobbled road of emotion once again, where tears and emotional surges trip me and catch me unaware. You’d think I’d be prepared after going through this with Abby. I’m not.
When I came back into the house after toting down the recycling, Henry was calling down the stairs.
Mommy, whewre is my favowite bwue sweatshiwrt?
In the dryer, I answered.
I looked there, but I couldn’t find it, he vollied.
I went back up the hardwood stairs and into the laundry room. I kneeled and opened the dryer door, then pulled Henry’s coveted blue, hoody sweatshirt from the dryer. With his blue cargo pants swishing, Henry walked closer. I pulled his sweatshirt over his crazy, bed-head hair and onto his white, smooth chest. His blond hair stood on end from the static electricity. My heart stood on end from the surge of raw love that threatened to undo me.
The morning light poured in through the laundry room window and enveloped us as we hugged.