The summer sun burned hot on my back as I walked through a development of townhouses on my way to the park. A week remained before Labor Day, but Monday was the first day of school in our district. Moms and Dads stood at the corner with elementary age kids, taking pictures and delivering hugs as the big yellow bus approached. Wasn't it only yesterday I was one of those parents, coaxing my little boy into posing for my camera?
On Wednesday, I watched him drive away in the used car we handed down to him this spring, headed for his third year of college. "Away" is the word that tears at my heart every time. I know this is right, life as it should be. As I want it: my son, tall and handsome, happy to take the next step toward his future in computer science, a college major we didn't have in my day. But just for a moment, I feel sorry for myself.
"My day" feels as over as the summer. The sun is higher in the sky on my morning walk. It sets farther to the west of my bay window each evening. I'm semi-retired, in my sixties. I have clear plans for the future: travel with my husband, writing projects, meals shared with friends, memoir classes to teach. But it's not the limitless future I suspect the little kids at the bus stop and their parents envison.
So I walk a little slower when I pass a group of little boys, taking in the sound of their laughter. I take my tea out to the porch and watch the sunset while it's still warm enough to sit in the rocker without a sweater. I remind myself that fall is my favorite season.
And this year, just like the last one and the one before that, it feels more and more important to appreciate each special moment. It seems, after all, that I have plans for the future.
Causes Linda Wisniewski Supports
Women for Women International, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Story Circle Network, International Women's Writing Guild