“I was worried about you last night.” Her only child was a typical first-born: Responsible, organized, forthright. She was genuinely sorry that she had concerned him.
“I’m sorry, honey,” she said as she gave him a good morning hug. “I didn’t mean to alarm you. I just went for some coffee and lost track of time.”
“Next time, answer your cell phone,” he chided her. “What’s the house rule?”
“I know, I know . . . ” He was not making this easy for her.
“If you’re out of the house, your phone should be on and you need to answer it when you see that the call is from ‘home.'” His mocking impression of her was flawless — and stung a bit.
“O.K., I get the point, buddy,” she sighed, again hugging his broad shoulders as she stroked his stubbled cheek with the palm of her hand. “How did you get so big so fast?”
“Don’t change the subject, young lady,” he teased.
“That’s it. I’m getting in the shower,” she announced as she poured herself another cup of coffee before striding toward the bathroom.
“All right,” he laughed. “I’m going to school. See ya later!” As he ran out the door, he added, “Love ya, Mom!”
“Such a great kid,” she thought to herself as she stepped into the warm spray. She stood still for several seconds, letting the water wash over her as she tried to collect her thoughts and plan her day.
Dr. Nolan. How would she tell Dr. Nolan that she had not been able to write the letter?
“I’ll just tell her,” she muttered. “Snap out of it. She’s your doctor, not the principal,” she reminded herself, silently rolling her eyes, but resisting the temptation to feign a sudden case of the stomach flu in order to cancel their appointment that morning.
As she thought about the good and bad news that she would deliver to her therapist that morning, she realized that she could not pinpoint with any specificity the moment at which she began regretting the choices she had made over the years. Rather, as the years passed, she gradually realized that she had unwittingly made decisions when she was naive, inexperienced, and intellectually unprepared to carefully weigh her options, that had dictated the course of her life so far.
And with that realization came another brutal truth: It was too late to change course.
She dressed and sat down at her desk to read her e-mail and the local headlines, and prepare herself to see Dr. Nolan. Just a glimpse at the large framed photo next to the computer monitor always brought a smile to her lips — and this morning was no exception.
“My handsome boy,” she whispered as she looked at the photo of the proud young man posing in his team uniform with a basketball tucked nonchalantly under his right arm. Despite all of the other complications in her life, one truth was deniable and brought her immeasurable joy and comfort: The moment that she gave birth to her son was easily the most important in her life and his unconditional love was the one constant upon which she relied. Like most mothers, she would give up her own life for her precious only child — and, on some level, that’s exactly what she did all those years ago. But he was almost a man and would soon leave her, venturing out to make the same kinds of decisions about his life that she had made. She winced at the thought, hoping that she had equipped him to deliberate about his choices with more wisdom than she had possessed at that point in her life. As she drove to Dr. Nolan’s office, she prayed the same silent prayer for her child that she prayed every day.
Click here to read Chapter Seven