Tonight, I was able to stop time.
I had to take my son back to college. It was dark and warm, with an early September breeze hinting at fall. As we drove through the night with the top down, he asked if he could play some new songs over the car speakers. He was chatty and silly, everything an 18-year-old who is trying to get used to living in another location sounds like.
He is still a boy, but I was driving him to his future, away from me, where the boy will transform into a man. At least, that’s the plan. As we neared the gates of his college, he shared a new song his band put together. It was sweet, ethereal and more mature than the first two albums they’d released. We arrived at his “home for the next four years”. He hopped out, worried I’d embarrass him. He made me pull around to the side entrance and I acquiesced, hoping to hear the entire song.
He turned around and waved as I pulled away. I quickly found the first album they created on my phone. The band is Ill Spector and they’ve gotten some traction on Spotify. Yes, I cried just a little as I pointed the car south back to Franklin and the life I will lead without him or his sisters living in my home—settling into the big “empty next.”
As the music floated up into the trees lining Granny White Pike, I couldn’t help but ponder the gravity of time and change. Both things are inevitable. Time marches on and the only thing we can do to hold on to moments is to be present and remember them. Music creates especially deep memories for me. I’ve always learned by hearing, so those impressions are strong and deep and just a little magical. There are moments I wish would last just a bit longer. But they never do. It’s a season of loss, the empty nest, the end of 27 years of being mom to three babies that grew up in a few houses, scattered across a few streets in downtown Franklin. As I head down Main Street toward Hincheyville, I picture them running through the yards, across soccer fields, riding bikes down the sidewalk and then, like a dream, it disappears into the night like the song now coming to an end—a song sung by my 16-year-old son’s voice—evaporating into the night sky.
I want to hold on to these precious moments. And when I’m old I want to take them out, dust them off and be grateful that for all the very hard times and the equal measure of sweet, honey memories.
I will head up to his room tonight, turn off the lights, close the door and think about him singing something new, the chords audible in my office at the bottom of the stairs… And maybe I will dream of that baby coming into my room with his fat cheeks and chubby arms reaching out to me asking, “Mommy can we ‘nuggle?”
My father warned me that these years would go quickly. Like most things, he was absolutely right. Tonight, I held it back as things slowed down and nearly stopped, just for a moment.