Friday, April 12, 2013
Six hours later when he was done, he had eleven, completely full garbage bags, the big heavy duty ones, full of who knows what. He said he had thrown away stuff that had been in his closets since the fourth grade. But on the right side of his bed were his awards, trophies and all of his framed certificates just stacked in a section of their own. I looked at him, then I looked back at that stack and I was too afraid to ask, so I didn't.
Since Zach was a mite of a little boy he has always been able to compartmentalize his life. Things are done when he says they are done. They are over when he says they are over. Always.
I took his bicycle away from him when he was four years old. He had been caught playing with matches, and fibbing about playing with those same matches. So I told him he couldn't ride his bicycle for about a week. I told him to put it on the back porch and latch the screen door. Instead, he took the bike himself, put a chain around the bike and the banister on the front porch and locked it down with a combination lock. He would decide where and how it would be locked up. This "stand" of his was not lost on me, but the bike was put up so I let it go.
Now that bike was Zach's best friend. If we were home, and there was daylight, he was on that bike.
Even when he got his bike back the next week, he waited a whole day after he got it back to ride it. Again, because he was in control of that situation. I didn't take his bike, he gave it up and he would decide when he was ready to ride again.
I won't lie. I have been worried about football Spring Training 2013 since two a days Summer of 2012. Last Spring as I watched some of the Senior boy's who were about to graduate, standing on the sidelines, hands shoved deep into their front pockets, looking at the future and feeling left out and left behind, it broke my heart. And as I sat there looking out my windshield at the scene before me, my mind drifted to the not so far away future that would be here sooner than we could imagine. For both Zach and myself. Soon it would be his turn. And even as I thought those things to myself, I wondered if he was thinking about all of that as well.
I can't tell you that he's said much about it. But I can tell you he doesn't hang around long after school these days. He's not standing on the sidelines when the last bell rings, watching the players warming up, running laps, or talking about new plays. He's in his truck and at the house in record time, slinging on his work clothes and throwing himself into someones yard work and bush trimming.
That same Sunday after a final trip to his room, I noticed all the trophies and certificates were gone. Out of sight. I did ask him that time where they were and he said he had boxed them up. That those days, those times were over. I said, the accomplishments were still there, the hard work was still there. He said "no, it's not Mama. That part of my life is over and it's time to move on." His tone was dismissive and I respected it enough to take it as that and left it alone.
So, he's had his Senior Trip, his last Spring Break, and the last in school Prom for him, is next. From there, everything else will be a blur. Baccalaureate, Class Night, then Graduation. Clean up the next day. And it's over. Just that quick.
As I walk through these last days with him, I watch his strong shoulders and firmly set chin and wonder where did all that strength come from, and find myself wishing that I had just a teeny bit of it myself.
He's already preparing for his own shut down. Shut down of the memories, the sadness and the emotion. He is compartmentalizing all of his thoughts from then and his thoughts about what is to come. He will not let the past take him down. He will not let the emotion control him or restrict him. He runs this show. He always has.