“Dammit!” Without pausing to grope around the nightstand for my glasses I let my chilly feet race me downstairs.
“Did you make it?” I asked the big kid sitting on the sofa, watching Sports Center, drinking coffee and eating a rather full plate of scrambled eggs.
“Oh, no, not yet,” he said.
“No problem…I’ve got this.”
I hustled into the kitchen and smiled over the fact that he drank his coffee like I do: light and sweet. A cup of my own would have been nice but no time! Not now! I hurriedly gathered supplies: a white paper bag, bread, sliced turkey, chips, a soda…things I needed to make his lunch.
But not just any lunch, the last lunch I would make him for his last field trip.
A few years ago there was a controversial revelation in the news: some parents were willing to admit that they have a favorite child. These parents freely explained why they favored one of their children over the others.
I can’t do that. Our kids are all too different and “favorite” is too vague. My favorite kid to go out to dinner with is not my favorite kid to ride in the car with; my favorite kid to watch “Doctor Who” with is not my favorite kid to cook with. I will admit that, at times, I will pay more favored attention to one child over the other, and the last months before they graduate? Major favored attention time.
Two years ago, I was wrapped up in all the “lasts” with my daughter. Her last prom, her last band concert, her last everything high school for her, our first kid. This year I’m focusing that favored attention on second kid, Luke.
You would think that because this isn’t my first lasts, everything would be familiar, but, no, the differences between her approach to graduation and his makes everything feel new. She commuted to college, but his plan is to go away; she had fun during this last sprint to graduation, but his senioritis is so strong it’s like he checked out in December.
For those and other reasons unique to him, I’m finding myself grabbing onto each of Luke’s lasts a little tighter than I did with my daughter.
Which is what brought me, my chilly feet and blurry vision, racing down the stairs that morning. I wanted to focus on crafting him a perfect turkey sandwich, because Mom always makes the best sandwiches; I wanted to pick the bag of chips he likes; I wanted to capture how it felt to write “Luke V.” one last time with a green Sharpie…but (especially pre-coffee in a still dark morning) we can’t always control our thoughts.
I instead thought about all his field trips from pumpkin patches, to dairy farms, Earthworks and the World War I Museum. I thought about how much his leaving in a few months was going to make the house feel, sound. So quiet, the fridge emptying not quite as quickly, the TV not blasting Sports Center and the morning house not smelling like scrambled eggs.
After I had my sentimental memory-fest while I made his lunch, I finally grabbed a mug to get my coffee while college daughter stared into the fridge. “Where are the eggs I was going to use to make waffles?” she asked me.
“Luke had eggs for…LUUUKE? Where’s the creamer?”
As he raced out the door to head to school he shouted over his shoulder and flashed a smile that brought 18 years’ worth of more memories with it. “Oops!”
And then, my favorite one to focus on in this moment was forgiven and gone that one last time.
No problem. I’ve got this.