It's back to school this week in Glenview and as I drive Grace to Junior High I wait behind a school bus that has stopped to pick up a young child. The mother and father are both there as it is the first day of school and I guess the first day of kindergarten judging by how wistful mom looks and anxious dad is. Dad places his hands on the child's shoulders as if he could hold him back from getting on that bus and maybe keep him a moment longer in the preschool world. I know what the parents are thinking. How quickly it went! Wasn't it just yesterday they were in the hospital with that newborn wondering how on earth they were going to take care of this new wondrous creature? Finally, the parents kiss him goodbye and reluctantly let go as he boards the bus with confidence. The bus pulls away and I'm not sure there's a more forlorn sight than that of the parents left behind.
I glance at Grace sitting next to me. Goodness, she's nearly a full-grown woman. She wears her new skinny jeans and has a new hairstyle with bangs that hang in her eyes and make me offer to trim them nearly daily. How did this happen? Wasn't it just a few days ago that she was in her new denim skirt, the one she picked out with Jeff on that special shopping trip in the city as they prepared for her first day of school?
Back at home Lilly is ready to head out to her elementary school. She has a backpack shaped like an alligator and wears her bike helmet without being reminded. She waves and pulls away from me, happy to meet her friend and ride to school. How could this have happened? Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that I told Atticus and Grace that they were going to have a new baby brother or sister?
As I turn to go back in the house I see my neighbor, Ralph, come out of his house. He's an attorney who works in the city and takes the train every morning. He and his wife Gundy are now the senior members of our block at the age of 70. He sees Lilly riding down the street and he stops and watches her for a moment longer than I expect him to. His face grows dark with something that looks like grief and I know what he is thinking. How could Lillly be riding her bike to school already? Wasn't it just a while ago that Kurt, his 50-year-old son used to ride his bike down this same street to that same elementary school?
I wave at Ralph but he is lost in reverie and does not see me. I turn to go inside and get my coffee before the gravity of the moment can move me to tears.
And so it goes and so it goes.