The clouds lifted today. After seven straight days of clouds, the sun broke through and burned them off. It wasn't supposed to be sunny today, but there will not be a hint of complaint from me about it. For the first time in probably 6 months I took a walk in just a t-shirt (I had pants on too)...and I didn't even have to pretend that I was warm enough. The sun-filled walk was the concluding activity to the time that my oldest and I had to spend, just the two of us. He rode his bike and I walked behind, but I think I'll count it as a walk together.
I don't get much time alone with my son. He is almost ten, and the older brother to two younger sisters, so my time is often crazily divided among the three of them. At the start of our twenty-four hours together there was not much said in the car. I must have missed when he started to be too big to simply chatter. He talked to me, but with a reservation that I had never really noticed before. I had to be more creative than usual to get him to talk about much.
He was better after he had a workout at his practice, and we enjoyed our dinner while watching basketball and eating wings. It became a bit more comfortable and the conversation brightened. As a special treat for our date night, and to fulfill a promise I had made to him, we went to the movie Avatar. We both loved it and continued talking and joking all the way home.
This weekend really was a homecoming of sorts. I remember, vividly, the night before my first daughter was born. Her brother and I had been running around the baseball bases during our pretend baseball game and I picked him up to look at the horses on the other side of the fence. He was so small then...just two...and I remember gentle tears rolling down my cheek as I hormonally reflected that he and I would likely not be alone much again. I was right.
It has been a long time, and he changes a lot between the times that we get to spend alone together. It will be a challenge, I am sure, in the next few years as he continues to change and I am even less important to him as a companion. I am challenged to welcome him home each time he returns...no matter who he is when he arrives.
I know that it is no accident that the reading and the homily at church today were actually about the Prodigal Son. I left challenged to live with the joy-filled heart of the forgiving father and offer open arms while running to greet a fallen child. When we exited the church, we found ourselves bathed in sunshine that hadn't been there when we went in. It was awe-inspiring and a reason to take my actual son on a walk around the lake...even if that meant I just followed behind him.