When those four babies of mine still fit in my arms, I said I’d never forget. The smell of their heads, the soft of their skin, the curve of their toes, their paper-thin fingernails. But the truth is, I have. The details elude me now. Sometimes they come back to me in bits and pieces, in waves that rush over my head, strong and sudden, taking my breath away. Like when James Taylor sings Something in the Way She Moves. But not every time. Not nearly enough. I swore I’d remember. But I’ve forgotten. Those minute details have been replaced with broader memories, a knowledge, deep and rooted and certain, of who they are to me, of who they are becoming.
All four are substantially taller than me now. All four wear bigger shoes than I. All four hug me and rest their chins on the top of my head. The tables have turned.
This week, the oldest graduates from high school and the youngest becomes a teenager. We were so wrapped up in planning the graduation party that we almost forgot the birthday party. The pace of life is astounding, relentless. The slow and languorous days become years that speed by without warning, without discretion. And one day you wake and they are 18, 16, 14, 13. They are tall, smart, handsome, funny, independent, opinionated. They are themselves. They have, of course, always been themselves. It has just become so evident of late.
Today, Chris is slow-smoking 50 pounds of pork for Saturday’s graduation gathering. Tomorrow, he will do the same. Wednesday, he will do it again. When he opens the patio door, wisps of charcoal wind float in, a reminder of the loved ones that will gather here to celebrate our oldest and his friends, our friends. There is nothing I love more than hosting a party, than being surrounded by smiling faces, than raising a glass to laughter and love and whatever comes next on this beautiful, spinning ride.
Barbecue and homemade limoncello and a toast to three beloved boys who will soon sleep in dorm rooms instead of in childhood beds. And another to their parents who may forget the smallest of details but who will never, ever forget those spots in our hearts where they were first imagined, where they blossomed and grew, and where they will always and forever be home.