It began on a sultry, quiet morning, with fishermen at the river catching slick bass in the slanting sunrise light.
Three days of hugs and I love you, of walking hand in hand, of exploring and lounging on a hotel bed, of swimming boisterously and calmly both in the hotel pool, of dipping fingers in the cold dawn waters of Lake Ontario, of riding a tall, fast elevator to the top of the CN Tower.
The train ride to and from Toronto was a calm and dignified way to travel. Elegant. Relaxed. No stress. Kindness between the plush seats.
It was three perfect days of being with my youngest child, celebrating his ascent from single digits to double digits, my final trip alone with one child when they cross that divide from very young to awakening to the world.
In ways, it was sad, but I never felt sad over these last three days. I felt so in-the-moment, so in-love with my precious boy and the beauty of my role as mom.
It feels, when these years start, like they extend forever. The thought of a tiny dependent mewling baby as a standing, walking, talking, independent thinker is almost imperceivable.
And then, there you are.
He’s tall and lanky and 10 years old and the years of nurturing a child toward realizing the world as it is are coming to a close. The teenage years are soon, or for the older kids, upon us, and then you are a shadow, important to be in the wings, but only in the wings.
And so this last taste of mother-son cuddle, it is so precious.
These last three days were simply perfect.
He held my hand, even when we’re trudging through Toronto neighborhoods on a sweaty Sunday.
We ate ice cream at 11 in the morning just because we could, and rode a train where my knees peaked at stiff angles because the space was so small, waving at the cawing peacock and mewling farm sheep as we circled the old amusement park.
We paddled kayaks through the still waters of the Toronto Islands riverways, beside one another, head to tail, coasting along beside bigger sailboats and a not-too-distant city skyline and noticing the beauty of this moment, of every moment.
At night, in the big king-size bed, he pulled as close to me as he could, his teddy bear and tattered blanket held tightly, the warmth of his still-small body my reassurance as darkness surrounded us.
And then, it was over.
The weekend, the awaited-for trip, the double-digit celebration, this phase of childhood.
This morning, he sits on the couch in his cozy pajamas watching a ninja warrior reality show and I am mere feet away writing about grasping this moment to hold onto it before it is so far gone, I can’t even remember it.
Why does life pass so quickly?
What is the point of it all?
Why do we put so much heart and soul into creating new life only to wave as sets off on its own desired path?
On the train ride home, Shaya insisted I watch a movie about Pele, the soccer phenom, which he had watched on my iPad on the way there. I plugged in my headphones and secured the earbuds in my ears.
The movie unfolded before me, about a small boy in rural Brazil with half a chance, if that, of going anywhere with soccer. And then the boy grew into a man who impressed the world with his singular style, his authentic playing, emblematic of who he is and where he comes from.
Brazil showed the world in the 1958 World Cup how to be proudly Brazilian. That it isn’t everything to be European. That the game represented the pride of being, rather than simply a ball and feet and crowds cheering in the packed stands.
The game redeemed the nation.
As happens for me, tears threatened my eyes near the end of the movie. Shaya was watching from his adjacent seat in business class on Via Rail as the woods of southern Ontario whipped past our window.
“It’s a good movie,” he nodded his head at me, as if to say I told you. And he did. My boy was right, and I was moved as he was.
By the possibility beyond the possibility.
By the beauty of being who you are.
By the truth in knowing how to stand tall in your own skin.
I love being a mother. I love my children in ways that I never knew I could love.
Three perfect days. Here as if no other moments existed, gone in a flash.