“Is there anything to eat?”
I think that’s maybe what I’ll miss the most–my hungry boy saying those words to me, in person or on the phone, usually multiple times on any given day. I almost cried this weekend watching him fight his way through the mob in the cafeteria, trying to fill up his plate with meat. I wished he could just sit down somewhere and wait while I sauteed a pan of boneless chicken tenders, just the way he likes them.
We left him at Notre Dame yesterday, about to begin his big adventure. I’m not worried about him. I’ve been through four years of college with one kid already and I know we will all be okay. But I also know that things will never be the same. Teddy is in many ways a closed book to me, with his own thoughts and his own life that he does not share. But he still relies on me for certain things, and that is going to change.
When he was little, when he needed me, he would say, “Hold mine hand.” He didn’t want to hold hands for long, just for a few seconds, until he felt better. He’s always been good at letting go. But he let me hold his hand this weekend, and he didn’t make a fuss when I played with his beautiful, thick, too-long hair. He hugged me good-bye, and when I cried he hugged me again.
I was the one to let go, to say good-bye and turn and walk away. One morning you go to a hospital, and you leave with a baby. Eighteen years later, you go to a college, and leave without one.
Maybe only a mother can look at a six foot 260-lb. man and see her baby. But I do.
UPDATE: This morning Teddy left to begin his Senior year at Notre Dame. The good-byes definitely get easier, but the homecomings are no less exciting! As I expected when I wrote this, we have seen less and less of Teddy. He came home that first summer, but worked in Chicago the following year in in Stamford, Connecticut this year. His end-of-summer visit home this year was interrupted by trips to New York City and San Francisco for job interviews. But he still likes me to feed him when he is home, and I find he still depends on us for help with a few things, even as he heads toward becoming a full-fledged adult.