A few nights ago, I sat at the edge of Noah's bottom bunk. His sheet was curled around him, a shroud covering even his head. He was so still, like he was already asleep. I waited, listening to sounds outside; the slow buzz of a bee at dusk, the building winds whispering rumors of a storm sitting somewhere on Lake Michigan; a motorcycle revving miles away. I waited, because I knew at some point the rock still lump beneath the sheet would give itself away. There would be a shudder or a swallowed onset of tears.
One of Noah's best friends moved away on Sunday. And by away, I mean a distant island called Unalaska, in Alaska.
Google it-- distant is probably an understatement.
We did the sleepovers and the as-much-time-as-possible play-dates in the weeks leading up to Liam's departure. We did the reminders of emails and skype accounts and summer-time visits. We even got a blank book out and had them start writing a story together, to be mailed across the miles and written in by each of their hands.
Still, the first time you have to say goodbye to someone so important is never easy.
Slowly, the sheets began to rustle. My boy's sandy blonde head appeared, tears welling in his eyes.
"I miss him already," was all he said.
Curling up beside my firstborn, I tucked his head beneath my chin and sighed.
I said nothing. I just tried to get our breathing in sync, a trick I learned was so calming to him as a baby. His legs stretched so far down the bed our toes almost touched. I realized just how big he was getting. I realized how soon I might be grieving miles of separation with those I am raising to go their own way. And I tried my hardest to let those thoughts pass with the billowing clouds outside. I tried to go back to our breaths, to be there in a way that said nothing, and everything.
Because sometimes, it is the silence we need the most.