“Mom!” Elle shouted. “Where are you going?!” Not gonna lie. I’ve absent-mindedly driven past the school several times. I blame adult ADD for those times. But this time was on purpose.
“We’re gonna walk to school today,” I answered. “One last time.”
I smiled, parked the car a few blocks away, and subsequently burst into tears.
“Can you at least hide it?” Elle asked, her eyes rolling as mine leaked profusely.
I promised to try.
But with every step, I brought up a do-you-remember...? We recalled so many moments on that walk, so seemingly insignificant at the time, but that bring tears to my eyes even as I write this.
One of my favorite poems, “The Last Time” (read it here), is a powerful message to cherish each moment. One day, she holds your hand, crawls into bed with you, or gives you a good-bye kiss at school for the last time. And you’re rarely tipped off that that was it. The last time.
But I knew this was it – the last time I would walk Elle to school. I took a closer look at a fragrant white rose bush I was always fond of and took a very, very deep breath.
I kissed her goodbye and watched her walk around the bus loop. She even waved to me just before she entered the building. And then I stood for a while. I looked around to take it all in.
The new crew of safety patrols, super-psyched about this new leadership role, but who will beg their parents in six months to let them quit. (I hope you say “no” and make them stick it out.)
And like somewhat of a nutcase, I started thanking the neighborhood (out loud!) for all it had been to us. And I started snapping pictures of random spots that triggered powerful memories.
The brown house with the detached guest house that Elle told me, no fewer than fifty times, we should buy so she could have her own place...when she got to middle school. (Sure, kiddo.)
The back gate, where parents dropped the kids off for school to avoid the dreaded car line. And where I spent many a morning (often looking disheveled) talking to neighborhood mom-friends.
Where every year, I would be blown away by the learning experiences afforded to Elle by world-class teachers in a second-to-none public, neighborhood school.
And where I wouldn’t need to teach my daughter to embrace racial or ethnic or religious diversity, because she would grow up surrounded by it and know nothing else.
I started to panic. I started to wonder if we had done the right thing. What did the world have in store for us after Avalon? Could it ever be this good again?
At that moment, Facebook alerted me to a Jennifer Hudson quote I posted exactly a year ago.
“Don’t block your blessings. Don’t let doubt stop you from getting where you want to be.”
I reflected on this little nudge. And after blubbering through the first half of my walk, I reminded myself that endings present beginnings, and that rather than suffer in the sadness of something wonderful coming to an end, we can choose instead to be grateful that it happened.
So pay attention. Take it all in. I’m not the first to say it and won’t be the last. But in this world we forget quickly, and need constant reminders to pay attention. Because cliché or not, it simply all goes too fast.