The Thursday before Donny and Kelli’s wedding Kira had her first day of Kindergarten. When Donny was starting Kindergarten as my eldest child I was like all the mothers I saw in her room fussing about perfection, battling emotion, and holding on a little too tightly. It was such a monumental event full of emotion for mom who no longer has the child within reach all day.
I felt like the granny of the group in Kira’s class. I have more in common with the teacher who is a grandmother and has been teaching thirty years than I do with the other moms wiping tears and hugging their children good-bye. At the same time I was within hours reach from going to the weekend festivity of my son’s wedding!
Here’s the truth. I wanted to prop my fists on my hip bones, stand with my two feet firmly planted apart, lift my chin and say with all my experience of sending five children to kindergarten, “ladies, my son is getting married in two days, now THAT is a monumental event.” I’m glad I didn’t because any first is monumental. It’s just that I was handling two extreme firsts bumped up against one another and my scale wasn’t so equally balanced.
The wedding was a beautiful mix of deep faith and raucous fun. I only cried once and it was because 1) I’d cried so much in anticipation of crying and 2) Jordan was asked as best man during the ceremony to put his hands on Donny and pray over him. When I saw Jordan choke up in emotion I mostly lost it. But so did everyone in the chapel. A wedding opens people up to be so spiritually and emotionally raw. During the ceremony the whole wedding party sang worship with all their hearts! It was amazing. After they turned and danced down the aisle it was a blur of celebration for the rest of the night. I was so happy and grateful and eager to let loose and celebrate in a way I haven’t really done since my own wedding. I confess, when the music began to play I danced every song and had as much fun as any twenty year old in the room. I’m quite sure though I was the only one who woke up with joints from the waist down screaming like an octogenarian. (It was worth it.)
Dancing with my son was a memory I will never forget. It hardly registered to me that anyone was watching. He and I haven’t ever officially danced together as a couple. It was quite a shock to us both when the song, “You’ll be in my heart” by Phil Collins began to play and it overtook us. You know, the one from Tarzan, and yes, that makes me a gorilla mama, and I’m fine with that. It’s a fun upbeat song but also deeply emotional and honest. At first we looked into each others eyes and both said, “I love you”, we hugged and smiled, and we felt the pulse of love but then the music picked up and it took me where I just wanted to dance with my son! We twirled, hugged, covered the floor, laughed, and played through the song. He even said, “you’re crazy!” He already knew that but he just hadn’t experienced me in all out joy and celebration. It was fun. At the end of the song the lyrics go, “I’ll be with you always and always, just look over your shoulder and I’ll be there, always.” That’s when I reached to invite Kelli to come and dance the end with him and I left the floor. But both Donny and I, without talking about it or planning it, looked over our shoulder and sang to each other, “I’ll be there always.” Yeah, it was a perfect memory with my boy.
Ok. It’s making me cry again only because I am so thankful that I share a love with my son that is so rooted in God’s kind of love that I can let him go and know I can stand tall and strong at a distance.
I was a dancer a long time ago and I guess it sprung with volcano force out of latency. Expressing my heart through the dance was better than giving a speech. I was so thankful I didn’t have to take the microphone that day. My words were choked. For once I didn’t have words to express what I felt. But, I know for sure everyone who watched us dance believes we’ll be in each other’s hearts for always and always. I shared our story in the way I know how best to express. I gestured to give him to her and with that I own the belief that he belongs to her, Kelli LaTorre. I am only filled with joy.
Artists create often and prolifically but if they are truly blessed they can say they created a masterpiece or two. Raising Donny was my first masterpiece and I couldn’t hand that off to just anyone. It is with pure honesty that I say Kelli is the girl to treasure the gift. And, thankfully, she’s really good at sharing. Besides, I’ve still got four masterpieces in the making that could benefit from my creative inspiration. So the next big question in my life is exactly how am I going to volunteer in the kindergarten class while I homeschool a busy Jack, keep up with Kevin the Senior (who just landed the role of Macbeth in the school play) and Jordan who is changing majors and universities! I figure I can stand on one foot, with a paintbrush in the other, one in each hand and one in my mouth. That’s about how it feels some days…if we don’t mention how deep my hands are all into Kirabo Seeds! I’ve got plenty to keep me cranking out art for a long long time. But Donny was my first and such an extraordinary experience in my life.
The day after the wedding Craig and I both felt low, ambushed by a funk. He went to the office to get alone with himself and I went to visit my horse just to groom and graze. These are the times when I shed tears with my four-legged friend and let out whatever’s in my system. The words from the song Donny and I danced to ran like a worm through my head for two days. It was there in the background constantly. It was reassuring. It was a gentle push forward. I’m sure I’ll have more days like that where I need a nudge but one thing is for sure, we are all moving forward. And the truth is if I just look over my shoulder he’ll be there…always.