[This is the eighth entry in my series on The Children. This is excerpts and connecting comments from several journal entries during the 1990s when John, Lucy and Liana were all together in the Hickory Street house in Jesup. Some of the entries are from a “writing journal” that I was keeping as part of a class I was taking on using journaling with students.]
September 17, 1994
John Nelson went off to college today.
It didn’t quite feel like he was gone until I turned out the light and closed the front door before heading for the bedroom for the night. As I closed the door, I realized I wouldn’t be leaving it unlocked for him to come in late anymore. Locking it had a strange sense of of unpleasantness to it, as if I were locking him out. Realizing… he’s not just spending the night with a friend, not just visiting his mother, he’s now living on his own.
Certainly, he’ll be back to visit lots, I’m sure, but — he’s gone.
If I haven’t spent enough time going in and sitting on the edge of his bed and talking, saying goodnight, I love you son — if I haven’t said it by now, it’s likely too late.
I think I have tried, I hope I have tried enough… Now I hope I can turn him loose and not drive him away by trying to do what I may come to feel I should have done and didn’t. I love him too much to do that.
It’s really incredible that this moment is actually here now. It doesn’t seem so long ago that he slept all night on my chest night after night, that I walked up and down the floor of that apartment in Independence to keep him sleeping, that I ran around playing football with him in Granmommie’s back yard, the he walked down the sidewalk with us, that he came here, a serious but smiling eighth-grader.
How could all those moments have become this moment?
September 18, 1994
We had dinner with John in the ‘Boro tonight… took him out for pizza with all the kids… it was pretty normal. The whole process has been pretty normal, actually. Except things were a little strained at his dorm room… his roomie a little stressed maybe… but we sat and watched a movie and it was normalizing, I suppose. Stacy popped in and out, pretty normal for her…
But it all sorta served as a formal break, a little goodbye, although not so dramatic as when I “went off to college.” John has been so self-contained and confident in all this, not seeming dependent on us for much. It’s been a good transition…
September 20, 1994
Ugh! Tough soccer game for my little guys last night! Lost 5-0 and looked pretty foolish doing it. The opponent was a new coach, but he had three strong, very fast boys. I love my kids! They had a grand time losing and are ready to play again and score a goal!
Liana loved her first soccer game, though she was a little nervous about it…. but I need to work on my attitude! I didn’t like losing… work to do. Mainly in my little mini-Zendo on the screen porch.
But Lucy’s team won tonight, so now I feel better!
September 22, 1994
A busy week! Tonight, Liana had her second soccer game. My little team did great, though we lost again — one or two very fast players on the other team. But we’re getting into it! Amazing!
And tonight, Liana sat in the middle of her bed holding up her two bright orange soccer socks, holding them together, carefully evening them out, running her fingers down the full fuzzy length of them. The look of loving wonder on her face as she experienced the joy of her first pair of soccer socks was the pure expression of a child encountering life, finding unexpected joy in its little things, a selfless moment of experience, a wordless wave of life…
September 26, 1994
Tonight, tho we lost ignominiously, Lucy had the half of her five-year soccer career! We were down three or four goals and striving mightily to score. Lucy was at forward, striker position. Over and over she dribbled the ball in to the goal box, going around much larger defenders with almost no help, to bring the ball within scoring range. She almost scored once and turned the ball around at mid-field numerous times! She took the ball from the opponents two or three times, as well.
She was darting around, in and out of traffic, running down players from behind, and once she even knocked down another player who tried to steal the ball! It was great! She played so hard, but we just couldn’t get our other forwards down the field. Sarah was doing great, too, but the two of them were not enough. Lucy did make a great pass to Sarah to start an attack, but the defense was too strong. Lucy felt, quite rightly, proud and good after the match!