My wife Abs smiled this morning as she adjusted her boots, basking in the sounds of our baby Brandon playing in his bouncer begging for food.
“I swear. He was in there playing this morning,” she said. “It was clear as day.”
I had to blow the whistle and call a personal foul on Abs. Brandon no longer fits in his bouncer. He barely fits in our house. Brandon sat in an idling car stuffed with clothes, food and school supplies, preparing for the 90 minute drive to his new home — the dorms at Michigan State University.
I prepared his favorite breakfast sandwich of bacon, cheese and egg on a biscuit for the last time. He took his final shower at around 6:30 this morning.
He gone. I finally kicked the boy out of my house.
While we moved him to Holden Hall I promised not to cry. I had convinced myself that the only reason I cried after dropping daughter Celine off at Stanford four years ago was because she is just so far away.
It would be different with Brandon. He was just down the road on I-96. If he needed me I could be there faster than the Detroit Lions could lose a football game. For much of the hour move in there were no tears or even thoughts of a break down.
I did not think the boy would cry. For much of life I’m trying to figure out if he actually likes mom and dad. He is quiet, loves to eat in the basement and barks at us on occasion. However, I saw his eyes turn red, which made me feel better because I was already breaking down.
We were going to leave him and I knew the final hug was hurdling our way like an out of control meteor. Nothing could stand in the way of that final embrace and that last “I love you.”
I think I could have gotten through it four years ago. But something magical happened. I got sick and retired. Instead of working like a yard dog my job became taking care of Brandon while Abs worked.
I cooked. I emptied his trash. We talked. And we grew closer as a father and son. He wasn’t just my boy. HE WAS MY BOOOOYYY!!!!
I will miss our Friday’s of ordering bad food.
I will miss the sounds of him bouncing a rubber ball in the basement.
I will miss talking to him about life and how to handle his first job.
I will even miss our shaving lessons.
Now that we are empty nesters, my friends joke that Abs will discover that I am boring and uninteresting and kick me to the curb. If she does do you have an extra couch in the basement or a spare guest room? I come with assets. I can smoke a mean slab of ribs and have become a whiz with an air fryer. I am willing to work my skills for shelter. I’ll even buy the slab of ribs.
Or maybe Abs will find me cute and charming and loaded with jokes and laughs. You never know how things will work out.
I just know Friday was not a day for jokes and laughs. Brandon is gone.
And I broke down and broke my promise of no tears again. Maybe time or distance or time of day has nothing to do with the tears I shed when we depart.
Maybe I love the little monsters.
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