Forever Young by Sharon O’Donnell

Tonight is prom night. 2012. My middle son’s senior year. He and his girlfriend left for dinner at a nice restaurant after we took lots of photos of them. Of course, he looked handsome and she was beautiful, and I wondered how that could be my ‘little boy’ standing there in that tuxedo. They will be out late, and I will probably finally fall asleep with my cell phone beside my pillow just in case he should need to call or text. Whenever he is out at night, and I hear the sound of the garage door opening, signaling his arrival back home, I feel so relieved and so at peace. My oldest son is in college, and I feel the same way about him when I get a text message from him, saying he’s back at his apartment for the night. I guess this kind of restless worry will continue even as they get older.

When they were babies, I used to sneak into their rooms at night to make sure they were still breathing. I’d stand beside their crib, mesmerized by their angelic faces and the soft rise and fall of their chests as they slept soundly. But now, I can’t run down the hall to check on them. Now I can’t make sure they are safe by keeping them confined to a crib. They are out experiencing life and independence, and I know it’s the way it’s supposed to be — but still I sometimes long for those nights standing by their cribs.

So many sentimental things are going on now as my middle one’s high school graduation is only a month away. Just this week, he had his Senior Night baseball game in which he played his last game in high school. After bonding with those guys on the team over the past several years, I knew that that night would possibly be more emotional for him than even graduation would be. I think he was more touched by it than he thought he would be, knowing that after years of playing baseball and afternoon practices, this would be the end. The last game. It was moving for me, but yet, I was also very happy, knowing that he had come through some tough times battling anxiety and was doing well.

I do have to say that I did read my manual on how to operate my camera tonight. No, I didn’t get a new camera — I’ve had it for six years. I just never had the time to sit down and read it; but, I wanted to make sure the photos we got of my son and his girlfriend tonight were good ones instead of too dark like last year’s photos. So I finally read the manual. And I actually figured out how to change the date on the camera so we don’t have 2006 printed at the bottom of all our photos. Yes, I’m pretty proud of myself.

And as I go back through all our old photos to make a video for my son’s graduation, I’m so glad that somebody invented the camera to capture those memories. I’m reminded of Rod Stewart’s song, “Forever Young”, in which he sings to his child as his child grows up that in his heart the child will be forever young. They will always be our babies.

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