It's 7:45 on Saturday morning. I've already worked out. I sat on the front steps with a mug of Red Zinger infused with raw honey and cayenne pepper. My bags are at the ready as soon as the Famer's Market opens.
Mike was gone all last week. Did you notice without me even saying so;-)? He arrived home yesterday late afternoon and began to put my world in order again. (Not literally--he's not much of cleaner-upper.) It amazes me how much effect one person can have on the heart of a household. For me, it's the presence or absence of my husband that is most notable. But I notice the comings and goings of children, too.
This weekend brings us very much into graduation season. This is the year of Patrick's graduation. Well, not really. Patrick graduated early, but it is the year he would have graduated. So, it's the year his friends graduate. Patrick collects friends like a dog on the trail in the autumn gathers burrs. He has lots and lots of them. And Patrick keeps friends. They've all grown up together. So, we are drawn into his flurry of activity this week as all those little boys he played soccer with since he was four celebrate this rite of passage.
We also have some matching cousins. Mike's sister and I were pregnant at the same time four different times. Our babies were within weeks of each other. For Christian, there was Catie Lea. For Patrick, there was Erin. For Stephen, there was John. And for Katie, there was Brian. I look with amazement at my lovely niece, Erin, who has grown into a woman of incredible grace and courage and I am so grateful that these days dawn bright for her. With her big sister, and with Christian, they will be a community of cousins in the same place next fall. That makes my heart happy.
Hilary, too, crosses this bridge. For nearly two years, it's been Hilary-and-Paddy, Paddy-and-Hilary. We're all kind of holding our collective breath to see how this transition is navigated for them. But Hilary's leaving will be felt somewhere else as well. One of Hilary's costumes rests on my counter. It's awaiting a temporary adjustment so that it will fit Mary Beth. It's a costume of a ringleader. It's still Hilary's. She will wear it again when the girls all dance together in their spring recital and then compete one last time together in July. But Senior Beach Week calls Hilary away from a performance next week. Mary Beth will be the ringleader. Still, no one will fill Hilary's dancing shoes.
I can't keep my mind from reminding me that all her life Mary Beth has followed Patrick and Erin. She's been right behind them. This year, she's here to slip into that costume. She is firmly rooted at the studio day after day, eagerly soaking up even hand-me-down roles. Still, whatever they've done, she's done soon after. Don't go there! Don't think for one moment today, Mama, about the day when your three little girls say goodbye to their personal ringleader. Stay in the moment. You must in order to survive. It's here in earnest: the season of a mother's goodbyes.
Patrick, of course, came home for the weekend, bringing Zach along for the ride. He wouldn't miss this for the world. It's a weekend of carefully planned parties, each timed so that one doesn't encroach upon another. Instead, my social butterfly can just flit from one to the next, reveling in merriment. Patrick definitely brings his own energy to the household. This weekend, he'll be sharing energy all over Northern Virginia.
And I'll be doing what I do. Filtering the energy. Storing it. Letting it soak in. These bright days are fleeting. I'm trying to capture them like fireflies in a Mason jar on a perfect June evening.