I thought I did really well this weekend. Sure, there were a few tears, but no shoulder-heaving sobs and no Kleenex needed, so all in all, it was a huge success. Then we pulled in the driveway, and opened the kitchen door. I could feel the water start to well up in the bottom of my eyes, but I fought it valiantly, and it went away. Dinner was a little quieter than usual, and my evening walk a little longer. I slept through the night and this morning had breakfast with my husband while we watched Fox News. I checked my facebook and e-mail accounts and read one supportive message after another. People are so sweet. After a morning walk, it was time for errands. The tellers at the bank gently asked how my weekend had gone, and I gave them the highlights while keeping it together. I really started to believe I was going to make it through this whole event unscathed. And then it happened. I was less than a mile from home when a big white Suburban pulled out in front of me. I noticed the sticker on the back window.

Jersey Small FEAT

Marcus High School Hockey #88 Within a nanosecond I was reduced to a pile of rubble. I had to pull off the road because the tears were streaming down my face so furiously I could no longer drive. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, there was no stopping the water works or the sick feeling in my stomach. How could they give his number away so casually? Didn't they know he wore the red and white #88 CCM brand jersey for 5 years? He had tried out for the high school team as an eighth grader, and made it. 5 years of early practices before school, or 10 pm practices on Monday nights. 5 years of games first on Sunday afternoons, then when he made Varsity, on Thursday nights. And before all of this, 8 years of sitting in smelly rinks all over the country watching my little boy skate and shoot and celebrate the love of this icy game. And just like that, it was all over.

My youngest graduated from High School in June and this past weekend I dropped him off at his new home. He's at a college 10 hours away from me, and the hockey bag is here in the garage. I know he ™ll do well in school; he's there on a debate scholarship. I know he ™ll make new friends; he's already hit the fraternity scene. I know my husband and I will be able to do a lot of traveling now that no one else is home with us. All of these are good things and yet I can't help wishing there was just one more game to attend.

Kelli Kirkham has been a burb mom for 20 years.    Through Girl Scout cookies sales, Cub Scout camp outs, dance recitals, room mom parties, middle school drama and high school dances, she has retained her sanity.   This year she begins the challenge of trying to remember who she is without kids in the home.



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3 Comments

  1. Oh, how long the days seem when you have little ones at home and then school starts and the days at home without kids seem so short. Next comes high school and the endless driving here, there and everywhere. Life “happens” all too quickly, but when your in the midst of it, it seems to go by slowly. My thoughts and prayers are with you my sweet friend. Looks as if you found your calling…your writing is beautiful. Keep them coming.

  2. I have a junior and a freshman at Marcus. I know all too soon I’ll be in your shoes. I’ve spent countless hours on sports fields, watching dance, and being a taxi. I imagine I’ll be going to see neighbor kids because it’s going to be so strange when it’s over….
    Your article made me tear-up and smile! Sounds to me like you’ve found your next life “chapter”. Keep them coming!

  3. You should get a medal for lasting that long! “Some” people have been known to sob immediately upon leaving campus and starting their short drive of merely 4 hrs. back home. As a matter of fact, while reading your story, those tears started again. I’m glad I got to see your #88 play hockey. I remember that little tyke skating down the ice in his BIG hockey gear.
    I’m glad you’ve gotten into something new and fun with your writing. Keep the articles coming.