A handsome young man settled in front of me. There were plates, napkins and glasses between us. As much as I wanted to extend my arms to greet him, it felt like he was significantly far.
He sat with his shoulders back, chest out and feet together. When he was five, I couldn’t even keep this boy calm long enough for a decent portrait! But look at him now. I smiled.
Today, his hair was cut short, high and tight. Back when he was ten years old, he used to cry every time I insisted on cutting his long, curly, blonde hair. I had to chase him all day or persuade him before he gives in.
The well-pressed camouflage uniform fit his buff body nicely and his combat boots were shiny. I used to enjoy dressing him up, but during his teenage years he started complaining. I would continually tease him and follow him around, handing him his jeans and shirt. I sighed, Those were the days.
Alert that I am checking him, this lad took my now wrinkly fingers by his left hand and traced the creases on my face with his right. I wondered if it was time to play the ‘staring game’.
I tried my best to blink back the tears as his whining, his sobs and the blubber sounds he used to make echoed in my head. Every time I glanced at him, I’m filled with the image of that little boy sporting a milk moustache asking for one more cookie.
He crouched beside me with his head resting on my lap.
“Some things stay the same and never change Mama.”
“Yes, “I kissed him on the forehead then stroked his hair. “But certain things do.”
‘Thank you for raising me well,’ his eyes met mine. ‘I love you.”
Looking at him eye to eye with his hands holding mine and the time standing still, I knew letting him go would be much harder than I expected. However, there are things in life that we can’t keep for ourselves for too long. Even if we want to. Except, maybe, for our pieces of memories – those we can keep forever.