Marolt: Gratitude higher than expectations
As with all kinds of pain, you dread it in anticipation. But when it finally comes, you don’t want it to leave even though its intensity might kill you if it lasted more than a few minutes. My reaction to it is that I can’t speak. I want to but can’t. It’s physical. It’s real. I have wet eyes and hold a quivering smile, but I can’t utter a sound. Everything hurts from the heart outward. I hug them with everything I’ve got in me. I wave awkwardly. They’re gone except for a glance or two over the shoulder walking away.
It’s not forever, only until spring break actually, but they are getting older, and so am I, and there is something so permanent and normal about the changes that are happening in each of us that we are overcome, I more than they because I have been where they are going, but neither of us has more than a general idea about what lies ahead for me. I know it is the richness of the meaningful part of my life blooming within that causes what I am feeling. It’s an incredible blessing.
There isn’t much preparation for the moments when we part ways. I mean, it happens on the front porch, on the curb in front of a college dormitory or a few steps outside an airport restaurant. One minute you’re surprised by how good the smoked turkey sandwich is, and the next you are an emotional wreck making the four-hour drive back home, hostage to the past.
It’s funny how life weaves from the ordinary to the extraordinary. An hour before we got to the airport, we were mopping up errands. The kid needed new glasses, and Denver is the place to get them, especially if you are going there anyway and you might have a little extra time; you never know with the weather.
“How does this pair look?” “Great.” “How about these?” “I like them.” “Which ones, then?” “Either.” “You gotta like one more than the other.” “They’re the same.” “How can that be? Look at the price difference.” “The magic of marketing. They’re the same.” “OK, then I’ll take the more expensive pair if it doesn’t matter.” “That matters.” “Then they’re not the same.” Hahaha! “I knew we were sending you off to college for a reason. I just hope we figure out what it is.” Hahaha.
Listening to music from his phone plugged into the car sound system got us going. We’re cruising along for miles not saying much and absentmindedly listening to whatever comes up in the shuffle when something from One Direction, which one of the girls undoubtedly downloaded, comes on. Without thinking, we both start singing. We exchange questioning glances, and the laughter rolls. It’s embarrassing, but hey, they’re not sudden superstars because we’re the only two males who have ever listened to them enough to know a few lyrics.
Before that, we had to stop at the outlet stores to exchange a couple of Christmas presents — the first a duplicate of a shirt already owned and the other a belt too short from a relative still picturing him as a boy.
“That one’s a little loud.” “I like it.” “OK, what do I know?” “Nothing.” “What about the belt?” “They don’t have my size in the same style.” “Pick another.” “OK. This one’s good.” “Did you gentlemen find everything all right?” “I think so.” “Oh, the belt doesn’t have a price tag. Let me go check that for you — OK, so crediting back the exchanges, that will be $44.56.” “Wait, how much is the belt?” “Let’s see. It’s $54.” “Wow.” “It’s a nice belt. And it’s 50 percent off.” “So regularly its $108?” “Yes.” “What do you think, Bud?” “I don’t need a $108 belt. My friends would probably think less of me if they knew it was that much — which they never would.” Hahaha! “We don’t want the belt. Thanks.”
We were lucky enough to see a bald eagle soaring out over the river in Glenwood Canyon as the sun came up. What a beautiful animal! We celebrated with some powdered doughnuts at the gas station in the town of Eagle. I got covered in sweet, white dust trying to down them while driving. That was the first laugh of the day.
I woke up in the dark, dreading the long drive to DIA. A little snow was falling, which wasn’t going to make it easier. My wife had packed up the returns and set out his prescription for the new specs. My expectations for the day were low.
Roger Marolt wonders why he ever wakes up in a funk knowing how full of surprises life is. Contact him at email@example.com.