Luca just turned fifteen. He spent his birthday at boarding school. Franny and I called to wish him Happy Birthday. He seemed in good spirits and was excited about his outing to a water park. Also, he was the recipient of a lot of desserts. I will see him later this week when I fly out for a parent workshop.
It’s a camping workshop. There are no showers at the camp site, which is unsettling for Luca and me since we are both fussy types. This may be the last workshop I attend because Prince is considering bringing him home in September. He was accepted at a private school where we live. I only know this because Luca’s therapist told me.
It’s surreal, this hands-off, mothering-at-a-distance. Sometimes, when the distance feels overpowering and my time as Luca’s hands-on mother seems like a dream, I look at some old pictures.
I remember what it was like to smell his infant skin.
To hold him on my lap.
To feel his little hand clutching mine.
I remember his phases. Amphibians.
The electric guitar.
The stunt bike.
Did I mention the waveboard?
Remote control cars.
But the moments I remember most of all are less the doing, and more the being. The physicality that is the crux of parenting young children, the moments of touch that slip away, almost unnoticed, over the years. I squint slightly, trying to seize hold of a memory, like chasing down a butterfly.
And when I remember these moments, there is a complex blend of feeling that comes along with the remembering. Something like wonder, at the directions life spins us in. Some grief, for what is lost, what never got to be. Some gratitude, for making it out alive, for what’s to come. Some peace, for where we are today.
Happy Fifteenth Birthday, Luca.