“Today’s a great day!” I said, with too much pep in my voice. I wanted to make sure I told him all he needed to know for this special day. “You’ll meet new people and it’ll be terrific!”
We continued to walk, hand in hand as we always had in the past. He stopped, looked up into my eye, and with a sober voice, “It is a great day, right, Mommy?”
Little Sis skipped along singing Great day, It’s gonna be a great day … She had no idea the somberness of this moment. But how could she? How could she know what it felt like to lose a baby into an Unknown World?
Soon the bus pulled up and stopped. My son climbed the big steps before him. I watched as he entered the bowels of the yellow-orange bus that had been sent to take him away. He found a seat by the window and settled in for the ride. The top of his head was all I could see as the bus wheezed. jerked a bit, and then drove away.
I cried all the way home. Little Sis and I filled our morning with a lot of nothing special, passing the time until time for Big Brother to return. When we saw the big yellow-orange carrier turn the corner we ran to greet him, smothering him with hugs and kisses. He walked differently on the way home–a bit taller, his shoulders back straight. He had faced the giant called Kindigar’n, and he had been victorious! I survived the first day of school.
Once again, the three of us walked down the long driveway. As before, I did everything I could not to start crying. This time, Big Brother held Little Sis’s hand as we strolled along.
“Today’s a great day!” Big Brother told his sister. “I did this last year. You’ll be great.”
This time, Little Sis squared her shoulders when the yellow-orange bus pulled up. Without a look back, she marched up the steps just as Big Brother had prepared her to do. She trusted him. They would be fine. But what about me? Who would walk back to the house with me?
At the end of the day, the yellow-orange bus pulled to our stop. Big Brother and Little Sis came bounding down the steps. My arms ached just a bit for the babies who had grown up so quickly. I had survived my second first day of school.
My baby … Youngest Boy … and I sat on the front steps of our new home and waited for the yellow-orange bus. Youngest Boy’s older siblings were already arguing about getting the best seats on the bus. But Youngest Boy and I stayed apart, getting a sense of what was in store for each of us.
“Today’s a great day,” I said softly, hoping my peaceful demeanor would give him the confidence.
“Really Mommy, a great day?”
“One of the greatest ever!” I hugged Youngest Boy close.
Too soon the yellow-orange bus stopped in front of the house and my three gifts from God rambled up the steps, Youngest Boy needing a bit of assistance. I wiped tears away as I watched the bus round the corner and drive out of sight. I sighed, went back into the house, and drank my coffee. I had survived my last first day of school.
Driving to work this morning I watched from my car as mommies walked their young ones to the different bus stops along my route. I saw them wipe tears away as they did their best to ready their precious babies to meet their own Unknown World. I reflected my own firsts. Then it hit me: Today I am facing the first day in twenty-nine years when I didn’t have a child experiencing some kind of school. Elementary, middle, high school or college–they were all behind me.
For a fleeting moment I longed for just one more shopping trip to pick out the perfect backpack, the most awesome outfits, or the most confusing calculator. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I watched that big yellow beast carry my sweet ones into the new season of their lives. I can still envision the top of Big Brother’s head through the bus window, the squared shoulders of Little Sis as she marched into her future, or the tenderness of Youngest Boy as he struggled with mastering the bus steps.
I think I’m going to text my three children and let them know that I’m very proud of them. They have met their Unknown World and survived … and I did, too.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens Ecclesiastics 3:1
Reposted from August 22, 2012.