He's got that grin, the way he tilts his head down and to the left, looks up with blue eyes and shines. There you are, I think. There he is, the boy.
He had called unsure of the way and I know one of the saddest things about moving is that my boy doesn't know his way home. At this point I think, I've obviously failed as a Mom. No pity please. It's a recurring theme. It's how we got here and we're okay.
He knew we wouldn't wait.
I rub the top of his head and laugh. Daddy had been torturing Mom all afternoon, had met me at the door each time I walked in with food. Is that an appetizer? He would ask and grin. I think Mom actually threatened his life several times before I would catch them laughing at each other.
The smiles, people are smiling, laughing, eating. Aunt Dottie gives up the seat next to me. Granny takes it. Slater is at the head of the table with Shelby in the chair next to him. The thing I feared came true, another woman took him and it is good and I do love her and there is a huge whoooooooosh of gone.
Let go. Let God.
How many times did I repeat that phrase that year?
I claimed it as my mantra.
But here, now he sits at the head of a table in the middle of fancy while Granny tells us how her war with the world is playing out in stories titled, The Guy at the Driver's License Station is an Idiot and That One Cop Was Always After Me. Don't worry, it's been at least a couple of years since she got those four speeding tickets.
Dad is to my left. He, Josh and Priscilla go for seconds. My plate had been sufficiently urban planned on the first. Skyscrapers of cornbread dressing from Mom. It is moist and tasty. Smoked turkey from Christy's. Aunt Wanda's mixed vegetable casserole prepared by Priscilla. Strawberry congealed salad, a recipe from Aunt Patricia. Daddy says he hasn't eaten cranberry sauce with dressing since that came into existence. A ham with honey and cranberries done in the crock. Rolls, turnips, butter beans, sweet potato casserole. The mac and cheese exhibits anxiety, never good enough, always trying too hard, six cheeses. Geez. Next year I'll try to make a regular one.
Here. now. He laughs at his Pop's jokes. There's mention of busting beaver dams and Slater tells Shelby she can just take off her shoes. Go barefoot.
Wyatt watches TV, laughs in a scream.
Plates are cleared.
There are declarations of pain, questions of
followed by a groan.
Desserts never touched.
No photos taken. The reason? I just wanted to be in it, not outside watching.
Today I am so very grateful for family and for Slater finding his way home even though it may not be the house he's used to. I tell myself it was never about the house anyway and claim it as my truth.