Saturday morning I sit sipping my coffee, waiting for Phyllis to join me. Across the small cafe table her black coffee, steam escaping the tiny hole in the cup’s lid, waits too. Within minutes she arrives, flashing her infectious smile. A dear friend, we share a love of love, stories of the heart, the mysteries and magic of the Universe, and a hopefulness that is sometimes naïve, but mostly brave, as we often put our hearts at risk.
Old enough to be my big sister, Phyllis lived my stories before I lived them, and knows my happiness and sadness as if it is her own. When I recount my tales she gives a nod and a knowing sigh as if to say, I’ve been where you are, me too, me too.
We quickly hug across the table and then sit. I squeeze her hand in mine and the conversation of a week ago continues as though not a second has passed. Phyl sips her hot brew as I chatter on about life and growing older. We examine each other’s faces and laugh as we discuss the bags under my eyes, bad plastic surgery and the possibility of going under the knife. The discussion gets a bit more serious as I tell her about what seems to be a turning point in my life . . . a releasing, a letting go of nearly lifelong relationships and situations that keep me stuck in a place I no longer belong. My heart is finally listening to my gut. She understands.
As we talk, my phone pings, a text received. I glance at it casually . . . my son. He needs me, money, some gas. I don’t respond. I mumble something, Phyllis knows my frustration. We take our last sips of coffee and promise to make a habit of our Saturday morning coffee talks. I am headed to my weekly guided meditation and tell her she must join our group. She’ll think about it. But, today she has a Saturday adventure planned. We part ways, smiling.
I walk a few blocks to the upstairs studio, looking forward to an hour of breathing, grounding, connecting and letting go. My son’s text gnaws at me a bit. My head will be clearer in an hour; I’ll respond then. Morning meditation never disappoints. Feeling renewed and refreshed, I wish the women in the group a good weekend and make my way down the stairs and into the late morning sun. Walking to my car, I dig for my phone in my cluttered purse. I reply to the text, I will meet him at the gas station. As I drive along the coast to the agreed location, I remind myself to be pleasant, ask how he is and NOT lecture. If I choose to help him, it comes from my heart, a kind gesture, I expect nothing in return.
I spot his truck, Bubba in the back slobbers and wags his tail as he responds to my voice. I look for my son, he emerges from the restroom. We hug, a little awkwardly. I slide my card. He lifts the nozzle and pumps the gas. I ask how he is and he responds . . . I’m moving to Ohio. Not sure I’ve heard him correctly, I ask again. Yes, he is moving to Ohio. I pause . . . That’s quite a move. Why Ohio? He explains his girlfriend has family there, there is work. Mom, I have to go. I have to get out of here. We’re both clean right now. We need a new start. I need a new start. We’re leaving on Monday or Tuesday. I listen to the details and resist giving advice. I simply say . . . sounds like you’ve really thought about this, and I put my arms around him.
He does not leave in the next few days. Instead, his truck is repossessed, and his phone and wallet are lost in the transaction. He calls all of this bad luck and is still determined to go to Ohio. He begins work on Plan B, another car and a place to stay. In the days that follow he ignores my boundaries. He is in my home while I am at work and I demand that he stop. He goes silent, no communication, and I distinctly feel the letting go I told Phyllis about days earlier.
Two weeks since coffee with Phyllis, two weeks since the ping of his text, two weeks since his told me he was going to Ohio. It’s hard for me to complete the letting go, not knowing if he is gone.
I wake up early this morning, long before I need to, or want to. It’s Mother’s Day. Well wishes trickle in from friends and family, all meant to make me feel special and loved. Instead I am sad. I give in to feeling sorry for myself. I miss my mom. I’m lonely. And I feel like I failed motherhood. I cannot spend the day this way! I get my ass out of bed, I play a great game of soccer, I enjoy a lovely brunch with friends, and then I see my girl and her boy. And the day is better, much better.
Relaxing on the sofa, I watch my grandson play with a friend, and my phone rings. It’s my son. He tells me he is in Arizona, on his way to Colorado and ultimately to Ohio. Somehow he made it happen. He wishes me a Happy Mother’s Day. He is excited to tell me about the Elk he has seen and the crazy weather he’s been experiencing. He sounds happy and excited, and then asks to talk with his sister. The conversation feels oddly normal.
After the call I realize we never said good-bye face to face. But there was a moment in those last days I will hold in my heart. The day after he announced his leaving, he came by my house to collect a few of his things from the garage. When he finished he shouted up to my bedroom from the bottom of the stairs that we was leaving for the night and would get the rest of his stuff later. I walked down the stairs with a lump in my throat. I stopped before reaching the bottom few steps, making myself taller than my son who stands at six-two. I bent down and held him close. He reached up hugging me tight. My body shook as I started to cry and he tried to reassure me, Mom, this is really best for me. I’m going to be fine. This is going to be a good thing. I love you. In my mind, I could see us as mother and son thirty years ago, both of us free to love, undamaged by years of addiction, blame and hurt.
And now . . . Both of us ready to let go.
Safe travels my boy . . .