The thought that kept ocurring to me on the trip to move Tre into his dorm room was, "I can't believe it's over."
Not the trip, of course. The trip went on forever. Tre and I drove down to Arizona, two days of driving punctuated by a very nice overnight stay with my Aunt Lavern and Uncle Paul. Then Clay and Sophia flew into Phoenix to meet us, and after we left Tre in his new home, the three of us drove back through the night in one long trip. I sort of thought that trip would never end.
No, I couldn't believe that this part of Tre's life is over. The part where I'm the parent who is parenting, instead of the one who did that already. His childhood. It's actually over.
Last week I took the kids to a Wash Park, a big and beautiful park downtown. We lived near there when Max was born, and it became an important place to the boys. For a long time, every Fall we'd make the trip downtown to see the leaves and play in the park and eat Chinese food from a nearby hole-in-the-wall restaurant of deliciousness.
When we were there, the boys got out a frisbee and started tossing it around. A tiny little five year old boy named Fransisco trotted up and asked if he could play. I watched them showing him how to hold the frisbee, praising his efforts, laughing along with him, genuinely and kindly, when he improvised methods of tossing the disc.
Just moments ago, Tre was that goofy five year old, and now he's the adult. It's actually over. How did it end so fast?
When we said goodbye, it was in a parking garage next to his dorm. I handed him a box of tissues, because he didn't have one in his room, and it's what I do. Did. It's what I did. He hugged me, and my breath caught with a moment of panic. It's really over? It's really over.
"I am so proud of you," I said, "and I can't wait to see what you do. And I will miss you, but I will be fine. Go have fun. Some of the fun. A measured portion of fun."
Clay hugged him, his own eyes bright with tears. "Have all the fun, buddy. Mom will be fine. You'll be fine. We love you."
Sophia hugged him, then turned and leaped into the van, curling up in her car seat. She sat motionless for a moment, hugging her knees, then a wail escaped her.
She, too, was surprised.
These two are going to miss each other.
During the drive home, whenever Clay was driving, I was glued to my phone, reading news about Robin Williams' death. Seems impossible, still. I spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about which of his movies I should rewatch first. We recently got Dead Poet's Society from Netflix, but I was the only one who really wanted to watch it, and I didn't have the energy to push through everyone else's apathy about it, and we sent it back, eventually. Now I feel like I missed it.
What I'm missing is the chance to sit down to a new Robin Williams' film, to ride the wave of his improv and be completely surprised where he's taken me. I just figured there would be more. I didn't realize it would end so soon.
When I drove, it was in the night. Clay fell asleep, and then Sophia did too. I watched the moon rise in front of me as I neared Albuquerque, then turned away from it to head toward Colorado. It was the second night of the Perseid Meteor Shower, and every so often a streak of light would flash past in the sky. It was always surprising, and I would point at it, involuntarily, as though there were anyone who could watch it with me. Even though by the time I raised my hand, the light was gone completely.
Look, I wanted to say, Look. It was so beautiful, and it's already over.