So some of you may know how much my great kid and I love the movie “Boyhood”. It resonates so deeply with us because it is, in essence, our own story to a large extent. A single mother raising a son, a mother who makes many (too many?) mistakes but is always trying to make decisions that she thinks and hopes will propel her and her son forward to a better, kinder, less stressful life. The life she faces as a single woman having to be both mother and father and guide her son while praying he learns from her mistakes is one I have lived for 17 years now. The movie that we still weep over every time either one of us hears the heartbreaking words that the great Patricia Arquette says to her son as he is packing up his car and going off to college: I thought there would be more.
This is probably the last summer my son and I will have together living in the same house as he is headed off this fall to his final year of college and then onto the path that will lead him hopefully to an enriching and rewarding life. I’ve been blessed, so blessed to have 23 summers with him here at home and it’s hard for me to imagine that it has gone by so quickly with no chance to make it last longer. It’s not fair to my boy to not let him explore and conquer, try and fail and succeed, fall in and out of love, grow and learn and live his own life. But he too (I think) wishes there would still be more.
I thought there would be more chances for us to head down to the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore in the dead of winter and walk and talk and watch the waves and, no matter how cold, get an ice cream cone before we got back in the car. I thought there would be more times to sit in a movie theater and watch a film we both loved – or hated – and talk about it over dinner, hash out the plot, critique it, recommend it, and sometimes go back and see it again. I thought there would be more days when he needed my help more than he does now. I thought there would be more chances to do all those routine things you do with your kids and don’t realize how precious they were until your kids are grown and the chances are gone. I know he needs to live his own life and not make sure mine is running smoothly but is it wrong to want to slow down time, turn back the clock, relive those precious moments, hours, days?
I thought there would be more days with my Dad before he left us, more chances for me to tell him how much I loved him and how much I appreciated all the times he worked 3 jobs to keep us all warm and safe and well-fed. I thought I would have one more day to thank him for spending every waking moment with us when we were kids, a fact my Mom always reminds me of when she tells me that my Dad would always say the happiest times of his life were when we were kids and he could be with us any chance he had.
I thought there would be more time with the love of my life, a man who died a mere 2 weeks before my Dad did. I thought that because we wished for a future together, it would happen. I thought that pain and suffering and hurt couldn’t touch us. I was wrong.
I thought there would be more time to be carefree and not be troubled by bills, debts, missed opportunities, broken hearts, hurt feelings, fear of the unknown, fear of the known. I thought I would have more times to say I’m sorry, to be less stubborn and more forgiving, to ask for a second (and sometimes a third or fourth) chance, to fix the unfixable.
I thought there would be more time to pursue what I really love to do, which is write (and I am ever so grateful to those of you who read these musings and always say such kind things to me). The satisfaction of writing is enormous and fulfilling; making a living at it (as I did for a brief while) was even more so.
I thought there would be more time to recover from the still-so-painful betrayals of 2 people I trusted (foolishly, as it turns out) and more time to try to rebuild, repair, recover. Maybe there still is but some days that seems like a moving target that I’m not even close to hitting.
But despite all of what I wish there could be more of, I am beyond grateful that my clock is still running, my determination is strong (and, with the help of some unbelievably loyal friends, getting stronger), my hope that a better future is still in front of me is strong. My desire to close the doors to my past, to turn the page, to let someone mend my broken heart, to trust people again, to cherish every moment I have with my son and my Mom and my sisters and my Burke cousins and my DC girls and my best man and my Florida friends and all of the angels God has placed in my life is a flickering flame that cannot be extinguished by what cannot be undone.
I thought there would be more. I hope there will be more. I pray that you will all come along for that journey with me because I couldn’t have come this far without the part, great or small, that all of you have played.