Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Back to Boston January 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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FRIDAY, 10:30 p.m.

I switch off the lamp. Two clicks. Pull the plug on the Christmas tree lights. Fold the fleece throw.

Then I step toward the couch, wait there until he looks up. He removes headphones, clamps his laptop closed. His arms reach up. Mine extend down. We pull each other close. Linger.

Tears edge my eyes. I cannot bear this moment, this final goodnight hug. He leaves tomorrow. After 23 days at home in Minnesota for holiday break.

I did a photo shoot of the son when he was back home in Minnesota. This was shot at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault.

I did a photo shoot of my 20-year-old son when he was back home. This was shot at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault.

I want to snapshot this moment, hold it forever in the memory of my soul. The scent of him. The brush of his curls against my face. The love between a mother and son.

Already I miss him.

 

SATURDAY, 3:05 p.m.

The son in the front passenger seat, his suitcase and other baggage rests next to me.

The son in the front passenger seat, his suitcase and other baggage next to me as we head to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

I am seated behind my husband, our son to his, to my, right in the front passenger seat. Beside me rests his backpack. His suitcase leans against the door, butting a cardboard box crammed with board games and other stuff he’s taking back to Boston.

A side mirror on our van reflects traffic along Interstate 35.

A side mirror on our van reflects traffic along Interstate 35.

The Interstate miles roll by. We are mostly silent. Until my thoughts tumble into words. “It’s OK to call me sometimes.”

He turns toward me. “I know.”

In the rearview mirror, I glimpse my husband’s smile. He and the son exchange a look.

Crossing the Minnesota River Valley on Cedar Avenue.

Crossing the Minnesota River Valley on Cedar Avenue.

Soon we are bridging the Minnesota River, skirting the Mall of America, nearing the airport. Airliners roar a reminder of departure.

Fort Snelling Cemetery lies to the right as we near Terminal Two.

Fort Snelling Cemetery lies to the right as we near Terminal Two.

Signage points us toward Terminal Two. We pass by Fort Snelling National Cemetery, seemingly infinite rows of white tombstones unfolding before me. Sorrow. Tears. Sadness. Mothers missing sons.

The road curves. We are there, pulled to the curb. Door slid open. Suitcase out. Box out. We’re all out and then the son reaches inside for his backpack, hoists it onto his narrow shoulders.

Then he is between us, stretching his arms around us. Three into one.

Tears slide down my cheeks as he turns away, pulling his box-topped suitcase into the terminal.

Already I miss him.

A plane flies out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

A plane flies out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport late Saturday afternoon.

 

SATURDAY, 8:40 p.m.

Credits roll across the television screen. I turn my face into the corner of the sofa. Crying at the movie. Crying because I want my son home. Crying because I wonder where time goes and why our children must leave.

I turn toward the Christmas tree, lights blurring through the tears. Scent of honeysuckle from a burning candle perfumes the room. The furnace kicks in. I dry my eyes on the cuffs of my sweatshirt.

I pick up my cell phone, reread his messages.

5:35 p.m.: I’m on the plane.

6:52 p.m.: I arrived in Chicago.

He’s not even to Boston yet.

Already I miss him.

 

SATURDAY, 10:21 p.m.

My cell phone buzzes.

I click on the text message: Just landed in Boston.

 

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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