Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What He Left Behind

The rain pours down, but it does not matter. Last week it mattered. Today the tent is down. The chairs and tables are gone. Lawn games stashed away in the garage. The balloons released. The party is over. All that remains is left over Chipotle and cake. And his worn out shoes. The shoes may always remain.

My son Patrick recently graduated from high school, and my family is coming off of a month of intense graduation planning and partying. Americana, Midwestern, traditional graduation. Cap and gown, rounds of pictures, a celebratory dinner after the graduation ceremony. Finally the graduation party. I'm pleased to report that we (and our house) have survived a fun-filled Sunday afternoon celebrating Patrick.

Now all is done. All that remains tonight are two refrigerators crammed with left over party food. A box of cake, plenty of beer, and very little white wine. What also remains are bits and pieces of Patrick's childhood. School pictures in frames, his high school diploma, scrapbooks created in elementary school, sweet family portrait drawings of his family. What now amounts to a large bin of memories.

His shoes remain—scattered on the mudroom floor, tucked away in his closet, or strewn about his room. Shoes that only he can fill. A reminder that he was here, but has moved on to better times that might include a Dairy Queen feast with his buddies, taking in a baseball game, or just hanging out with his girlfriend.

Empty shoes that I cannot ever possibly fill. But shoes that protect those strong feet of my little boy. Shoes that will encase a part of him when I cannot. Flip flops that will lead him forward into a future of his own making.

Some shoes will remain behind this fall when he leaves for college. Just like a part of him that will forever remain. Not left behind, but always with me.