Heading back home after spending a few days trying to get my eldest son, Ben, settled for another year of school is way more emotional than I had expected. Yes – I’ll admit I am quick to tear – but this was ridiculous. Thank goodness airport security gave me several tissues as she swabbed my hands as I was randomly selected for inspection.
“I didn’t think I’d see him going off to school this year,” I blubbered to the lady at security. “I had stage 4 cancer and have only been several months past my last chemo treatment.”
“Oh -my!” she offered as reassurance to me. “It isn’t easy, is it, to leave them? But look at you now! Congratulations!”
I blew my nose into the tissue as she swabbed my computer and other items in my belonging. “Is the scanner able to detect the chemicals in the chemo?” I asked.
“No – you were just randomly selected. But you are good to go.”
“Funny, I was also selected in Toronto.” I explained, trying to find a distraction from my tears and Ben’s glance as he stood on the other side of the security clearance area. Gawd! How awkward to not be able to pull it together in any form of composure. There was simply no way I could be strong enough to not cry. So I did. And I carried on sniffing and sobbing until I sat down in the chair furthest from anyone. As luck would have it, however, a young woman and her son sat down right in front of me to witness this mad hysteria. The airport, I may add, was empty otherwise. Well, that did it. How could I carry on while another young mom and her boy sat watching me?
“Ring, ring, ring…” went my phone (or whatever sound the new age cells make!)
“Hey – it’s Ben!”
Well, my heart filled with joy. It was my boy – he really hadn’t left me afterall. In reality – it had only been less than five minutes that we had departed from one another.
“I bought you a surprise to remind you of our visit. And look up.”
So – I looked up and looked in my suitcase. There was Ben on the other side of the window watching me find my surprise. Eagerly – I looked. Two post cards: one of Kakabeka Falls – where we had had a wonderful hike early in the day, the other of a bear – which I had been terrified we would encounter during our hike around Lakehead University campus. I may also add – we walked “over” a big pile of bear scat… from which I wanted to scoot!
“Oh, Ben. How wonderful. Thank-you.”
“You are welcome, Mom. Thanks for coming and helping me set up my place for the year. It was so nice to have you come and you were so helpful. I really enjoyed our visit together,” he added.
“So did I, buddy. I had a great time. So nice to see – finally – where you live. So happy to have met some of your friends. I need to know that you are going to be okay – please keep busy. I wish you a wonderful year – lots of success, happiness, and adventure.”
“Bye, Mom. I love you.”
“I love you too, Ben.”
And with that – Ben left – as did a piece of my heart. I absolutely hated saying good -bye. I would not see him again until Christmas. There was so much that I wanted to say – like, “Don’t go!!!!”. But – he has a life to live. He is ready.
Together, Ben and I had shopped for supplies to help make his new residence more “homey”. “I don’t need a table cloth, Mom”, Ben said. I knew he did. I knew I needed him to have one. I knew that would make his residence seem more “comfortable”.
Together, Ben and I had made dinner to fill his residence with cooking smells of home. We packaged the left-overs so that he would have lots to eat while waiting for his meal plan to kick in. I knew that would make Ben more comfortable.
Together, Ben and I had ventured through his campus. I wanted to become more familiar with it so I knew he was safe. I made friends with anyone and everyone I could so that they would take care of my boy in my absence. It wasn’t Ben’s first year – but it was the first year since my “remission”. I needed to see his life here in Thunder Bay with my own eyes. I knew that would make me more comfortable.
It is difficult to be at school so far from home. It is difficult to be home so far from school. At least I know airport security cares – his school cares – his friends care – he is respected. He is happy. And nothing else really matters.
Miss him already, my Ben.