This past weekend I was driving home from across the state. I stopped in Rolla MO in the early afternoon for lunch at Panera. Rolla is a university town, a technology university. Maybe it was Parents' Weekend; maybe most weekends bring the parents, longing for their children because every table in the restaurant was filled with families. A parent or two beaming at a young student or two as the students told their stories.
The fathers, huge smiles, from ear-to-ear even, fully enjoying the humor of their growing sons. (Most of the students at this school are male.) The fathers' shining eyes watched their boys laughing over the soup and sandwiches.
The mothers? Longing. Wanting to touch. Wanting to sit closer, be nearer. I could feel it in every mother I saw, the longing. Quieter smiles, hands fluttering toward the part in her son's hair, his collar, his shoulder... A short break from her son's empty room, well-made bed, the full refrigerator back home. If only for an afternoon, until it's time to leave...one step at a time, walking back home...without him.
All of the rest of my drive home I thought that soon, one day soon, John will be far away and I will make that drive ...just to touch his hair.