It’s not yet 7am, and you’re behind the wheel of the Toyota, coming out of a curve on a pot-holed, back road. Your road. The one you drive every morning at this time, your 12-year-old in the passenger seat beside you.
There’s more light in May, and the lifting sun’s rays now shine through the windows on your arms. The interior is quiet, but for the playlist shuffling on the stereo, soft but audible. You are both still waking up, each following the thoughts that stir and stretch.
You reflect on recent news. An acquaintance, not an intimate friend, but someone you’d known for years. You’d both seen Bruce Cockburn in concert. He’d turned you on to Patty Griffin. He’d moved from your small town many years ago, but sometimes your paths would cross during one of his return visits. Last time you saw him he gave you one of his own self-produced CDs. He asked, like always, “So, how old’s Jeb now?”
You’d say the age, your hands gesturing height in relation to your body. You’d both nod heads, affirming, “I know…time goes quickly.”
But he knew better than you. Two grown children in their twenties. He was long past pre-teen years.
You just learned he’s gone. You’d never known he had cancer. Never heard he passed away. That was two months ago. Was he even 50?
These are your early morning sunshine thoughts, as you drive your boy to the bus stop. Ben Howard’s “Only Love” is on the radio. The song is “our song” for you and your husband. And in this moment, this song is “the song” for the Now.
Your heart is flushed to bittersweet, full-capacity, as you click on the blinker for a right-hand turn at the stop sign. All of this is all there is, and all of this – you’re learning – will vanish.
You love your son. So deeply, you cannot touch the depths.
Does it matter if he does his homework?
These days will change, and you realize that you do not even know what this means.
How did you become this 42-year-old mother driving down a rural, island road?
You hope that you’ll remember these beautiful early rays making gold on shimmering tree tops, when you get home to a sink full of dirty dishes.
You feel the All of Everything welling up to fill your eyes. You reach over and pat the knee of your growing boy. He sees you. Squirms in his seat with your nostalgia. Knows you have these moments sometimes.
Ever so soft through the speakers, Ben Howard sings, “Darling you’re with me, always around me…Only love, only love…”
Driving with your son, your boy, in this moment, you feel only love. And that one-and-only, well, he can barely sit with it. He smiles, sheepishly, glancing at the radio dial with a respectful request.
“Mom, can we turn it down a little?”