I looked in my son’s eyes at this reunion. Images flood as I retire to journal after the first day of time again. I see Lincoln Logs and Lego. Ninja Turtle moves and chasing a butterfly as goalkeeper while other 5-6 year olds mold around a soccer ball and move like tug-o-war somewhere at midfield. Laser Tag birthday parties and Pop Tarts after school. Later, at 15, walking in the den as I played and asking, “Dad, will you teach me that song on guitar?” One of my favorite moments. School plays where this peaceful teen transformed into animation and song. Baseball, football, wrestling and all things athletic while the arts tugged alongside. Books filled with the fantasies of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and of a boy named Harry. Flying in to Nashville just in time to hear him play his first gig and his first (and perfect) original. Pranks and bonfires and time with friends who stay friends. All boy. Always kind. Playful and pensive. Destined for something great
Then, the middle years. Somewhere between 11th grade, through college, and to this day. The years when when hobby and interests turn to passion and mission. When values and ideologies and philosophies are tested and changed. Or affirmed. A love. Vows, to a mate of a lifetime and vows to his country. And there are the dogs. Oh, the dogs that always seem to find a home in a Keyser pad. The decision to be a healer and a soldier. A leader of men and women. Between the studies, the weddings, the funerals, the contracts, the moves from base to base, the training, city to city, and hospital to hospital, we find ourselves here.
In these few days we did what we do. We talked about being human, being an American, a citizen. Politics and fast cars. Healthcare from the perspective of healers and administrators and advocates. We journeyed through the broken years and the moments and the days that have healed along the way. We laughed at the stories and how they are colorfully garnished with time. Watched a movie, and then another, and then another. Shared time in worship and song. We visited wineries and tasting rooms that line the hills and valleys of this pristine state. We offered our own tasting notes and made fun of the ones penned by others whose taste is something of another planet or palate (“graphite?). We placed targets along a pulley at a gun range and tested our skills and then watched my own Bonnie and Clyde at work. We went to the woods and gathered and chopped wood and built a fire and watched it light up the cool Washington night while the dogs chased and tirelessly played. Cheese and fruit and a bottle of Syrah. We walked through the personalities and the eccentricities of those we love and those we acquaint. We rested.
Then came time to leave. Breakfast and coffee. Small talk. A ride into the city and to the airport. A nervous look around the car for things forgotten just to add seconds or minutes. They never knew. An embrace and parting words like those as if returning in days. I walked into to a terminal full of hurried bodies. A glance back and the little Honda was gone. The tears find their release and the deep breaths keeps them at bay.
I don’t know if I have ever actually said those indelible parent’s words, “All grown up now.” But today, of all days, I find myself quietly offering them as my attention is fixed on the pictures on my phone while ignoring the TSA agent patiently motioning me through PreCheck, as if she knew.
To our beautiful Jenny—I love you. And I love the way you are.
Logan—I love you with a full heart and thank God every day for the treasure that is you.
“Godspeed, Little Man.”