It was only yesterday you would run to me when you were upset or hurting. It was only yesterday you held me tight. Rib crackingly tight. For no other reason than that you felt like it. Only yesterday would you share every discovery. Every happiness. Every fear. Every dream. Good or Bad. Every new step. Each fall.
Was it only yesterday you kissed me goodnight for the last time. Telling me gently, but firmly. It wasn't necessary any longer. My heart missed a beat. It isn't? Where is that written? Show me. I wish to silently protest. I'm not ready. Not yet.
I think it was only yesterday when I listened furtively for your each sleeping breath. One to follow after another. So then I too, could breathe.
It was only yesterday you tied your shoes. You buttoned your shirt. You zipped up your coat. First times. By yourself. Beaming with pride. You. Me.
This week you have been on work experience. You've been surprised by the joy and the satisfaction you felt. A class of six year olds called you Mister Watson. Three little giggling girls told you through trembling hands they loved you. A boy asked you if you could be best friends. Life learning. Experience. It has begun.
It was only yesterday I stood paralysed and cold. My eyes following your every step. Every fall. Trip and tumble. On a frozen concrete playground. I stood. On duty. Seemingly, ignoring each other. Balancing the thin line. Secretly comforted by each others presence.
Only yesterday you played in your band for a parents 50th Birthday. I watched you try to hide the emotional squirms and flinches. You asked if we were going. I knew we could not. It is your time. (shhh! I can catch you on youtube)
Your wide dimpled smile sits comfortably in your malleable face. Daily it appears to morph towards manhood. Giraffe like you saunter. Finding you way. Over six foot you tower over me. Man child.
Next week you go away with your history class to WW1 Battlefields in Europe. To the Somme & Ypres. Then a few days later you leave again. For the Duke of Edinburgh award trials. Overnight. Four lads. On the Lakeland fells. Alone. Now I squirm and flinch. My skin itches. I waken suddenly from my thin sleep. My mind is pacing. Across the ceiling. Back and forth. Your bed is empty. Your room is still. My hands sweat and I blink back tears. I try to swallow the fear. My throat tightens. My breath catches deep in my heart.
How do I let go? This is the hard part. The part I have kept boxed away. How not to see them. Nor touch them. Not to reach out every day. I will dehydrate. I will shrink. Visibly smaller. I am less. Lost. To thirst for the smell of them. To breathe them in. Let them go. I know. I must begin. Or else they will tug and pull and rip themselves from me. I am told they will return.
I will sit on the periphery of their lives. On the edge of my own. Watching. Wanting. Waiting. For morsels and cake crumbs. I will drink deep from the well of memory.
She is seventeen. He is almost fifteen. How fast it goes.
And it was only yesterday...