He stepped through airport security, looked back, and then he was gone.
It’s still hard for me to comprehend that Ryan, my son, has left for college. I remind myself that he is pursuing his dream of playing baseball, getting his education, and experiencing a new state. When the college opportunity and a baseball scholarship presented themselves to Ryan, he took them. I, however, am left at home with nothing but the memories.
Twenty years. I have spent almost every day for the last twenty years having my son at home and suddenly, he’s gone. I can’t help but reminisce about old times, pour over pictures and just miss him.
I can vividly remember the day his father and I brought it home from the hospital. It was my father’s birthday, and my parents were visiting us from California. We brought Ryan home in his little Boston Red Sox sleeper after his three day stay in the hospital. To this day, Ryan is a huge Red Sox fan. Since Ryan was our first baby, neither Ted, his father, nor I knew what to expect. While we learned having a newborn can be challenging at first, we agreed that unlike the Red Sox, our little Bambino was anything but a curse.
We marvelled over every minute detail of our perfect baby and documented his every milestone. Not surprisingly, Ryan’s first word was “ball”.
He entertained us with his love of Barney the Dinosaur and the Disney movie, “Aladdin.” Our VCR really got a workout between the two!
As he got older, his passions for “Power Rangers”, sports and video games replaced his toddler obsessions. He excelled at soccer, just like his dad.
I pondered the rough times, too. When Ryan’s father and I divorced, Ryan was forced to assume some adult responsibilities. Although I worried about Ryan and his sister, I could always count on Ryan’s maturity.
At the age of 10, Ryan’s stepfather introduced him to what would become his greatest love: baseball. Ryan was a natural on the baseball field. He made All-Stars every year, played with a traveling team and even played in a Varsity high school game when he was a sophomore. It was on the Cubs spring training baseball field that Ryan would see his father for the last time.
For many kids, weathering the tumultous divorce of their parents coupled with the death of a parent might spell disaster for the child. Ryan, however, remained strong and resilient.
Not to say that Ryan is an angel, by any stretch of the imagination. He’s got a chip on his shoulder, he can be disrespectful and when it comes to chores, he is downright lazy. He’s kept me up nights when he’s broken curfew and then there was the time I had to accompany him to court for criminal speeding…
He’s been a challenge, but a fabulous challenge. I miss his logic. I miss his sarcasm. I miss his knowledge of all things sports. I even miss waiting up for him and worrying about when he would get home.
So now he is making new friends, and adjusting to a whole new world–just like Aladdin! The last time I spoke with him, he told me he saw it snow for the first time in his life. I can only imagine what other wonders are in store for him in the next five months.
While five months doesn’t seem like a long time, it already seems like an eternity since I have seen my baby boy. And while I know he misses his girlfriend, Brooke, more than he misses me, it just confirms that he is growing up. My heart swells with pride when I think of the man he has become and the man he is destined to be.
At the airport, he and Brooke shared some tender moments saying good-bye, even if it is only until spring break. As he hugged me good-bye, he whispered in my ear, “Thank you for everything, Mom. I don’t know what I would do without you and Brooke.”
He cried in the airport as he walked away, ready to embark on his first airplane ride alone, ever. I tried not to think about the fact that he will be 1,668 miles from home, living in a state where he knows no one except his coaches. I am proud of him for being so courageous and for pursuing his dream.
Just then, he stepped through airport security, looked back, and he was gone.