I've been thinking about this day all year, wondering what I would do when it arrived. Would I stand on the school lawn, a voyeur into the marking of a moment, many moments, staring at others' tears and smiles? Would I enter into the circle, as I so wanted to do, to both welcome and send off, to be a witness for the parents and children starting a new chapter in their lives? What would I do, on this day that would have meant something for my family, if things had worked out differently?
Today, Ben would have started kindergarten. There are milestones on this journey that we mark; in the first year, the holidays, the gatherings missed, the first birthday, the first anniversary of loss. Later, more birthdays, significant moments, like this one. I won't ever have a day to mark when he might have married, had his first child, no certain date for his first day at college. But this day, this day I know.
I watched for a few moments, from the playground, as James played with a friend, as the kindergardeners gathered,some of them crying and hugging their parents, reluctant to take this big step. The parents took photos and wiped away tears, promised to be back soon, that all would be okay. I walked away as they gathered in their circle on the lawn to mark the official start of their formal educations, holding James in my arms.
"Why you stop and look, mama?" he asked me.
"Because I wanted to," I replied, my voice full of tears.