My high school junior year was the first “Greatest Year of My Life.” I say “first” because I’ve had many other “Greatest Years of My Life” since. When the year ended the sadness was doubled by having to say good bye to my buddy Ernie who was leaving for college. I don’t know if I had ever cried as hard as I did that night before he left. Ending a great year and a close friendship was a milestone.
Next came my own high school graduation and my very tight group of girlfriends, mostly in clumps of fours and fives, chose different colleges. We gave gifts to one another and stayed up all night making our final high school memories. We took photos and hugged and cried and laughed until the sun came up. A milestone.
My college best friend got into her packed-to-the-max Toyota, and I watched her car turn into the distance away from four incredible college years. I knew we would always be friends, so I didn’t cry. Another milestone.
At this point life began to speed up. Marriage, my first job, our first house. Milestone. Milestone. Milestone.
Suddenly, it was time for kids. No doubt that I wanted children but found it difficult to step into the parental arena. I had not taken much notice of babies and such. People snickered at the thought of my even holding an infant. We had been married five years when my husband declared we were at our Children Milepost. Two years later I saw Clayton face-to-face. A milestone.
He was the perfect baby. Thoughts that he might be the second sinless child fluttered through my mind. No child had ever been so special. When he turned two, I took him to the doctor thinking he was sick. My doctor’s diagnosis: “Clayton is two.” Okay. Only Jesus was sinless. Still … I knew he was very special and was destined for greatness. His first five years his nickname was “Special Boy.”
Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Life’s inertia pulled me onto the fastest motorway imaginable. I sped past so many mileposts that if I hadn’t kept focused I would have missed many. Kindergarten, reading, hitting a baseball across the yard, multiplication tables, my realizing he is his own person with his own will and desires (at that point I wondered if it was possible to not be a parent anymore), first middle school football game, voice changing, passing me in height, hunting with a real gun, drivers license, first date, turning eighteen and deciding to take up pipe smoking (it’s all good, no weird tobacco and he has his dad’s blessing), West Point acceptance letter, last high school football game.
Without notice all the “firsts” are becoming “lasts.” I wish I could close my eyes and not read the inscriptions. But, I know this, too, is a part of the adventure, and I haven’t missed anything thus far, and I’m not planning to start now. Reading the milestones helps me appreciate the journey.