Those eyes. The very first time we met, nearly four years ago, all that I could see of his face were his enormous, greenish-hazel eyes. He had a wool cap pulled down past his eyebrows and his oversized sweatshirt pulled up over his nose and I wondered if I'd ever be able to get past the hurt and the distrust.
Tonight is Senior Night at Alcott's high school, when the senior football players acknowledge the significant people in their lives. For most kids, that turns out to be their parents or grandparents. For Alcott, it will be his younger sister. I've been debating about whether or not to drive the 20 miles each way to watch or not. Our relationship is changing...has changed...will continue to change. He's 17 now, in his senior year, still uncertain about his future, but not looking to me for answers anymore. He's making decisions - many of which I disagree with - that will shape the rest of his life, and it terrifies me even as I understand that this is exactly what was supposed to happen. I met him at one of the most terrifying points of his life - a crossroads, really - and I helped him discover the path that was right for him, and now he's made a life for himself that doesn't need me. While that's tough to take, I have to put aside my hurt (this was never supposed to be about me, was it?) and be proud of the young man he's becoming. He's not 13, he doesn't want my advice, and I have four other children/young adults who do, so it's time for me to start letting go.
I've never posted a picture of him here before, nor used his real name, but tonight, in honor of his Senior Night, I want to celebrate the achievements of this wonderful boy/man. (He's wearing #7 at the top of this picture...dragging his feet as usual!)
Alcott, if God had seen fit to bless me with biological children, I could not have loved them more than I love you. I love your insecurities, your sadness, your happiness, that amazing smile, the serious talks we have, the silly talks we have, your messy room, your messy hair, and most of all, the pure white light that emanates from every part of you. I am terrified already for what will happen when you leave for college, but I know I cannot - should not! - protect you, for it is the adversity of life that makes us strong. Know that I will always be here for you when the world feels too unfair, that you will always own a special piece of my heart that is only for you (shh, don't tell your siblings), and that I'll be right next to you, cheering you on, no matter where your path leads. I'm never more than a telephone call away and there's nothing you can tell me that would shake my unwavering love and support, so don't be afraid.
Be not the slave of your own past-plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old. Ralph Waldo Emerson