It’s May and my Facebook news feed is littered with pictures of graduation and prom, college acceptance letters and mission calls. It’s May and my friends are scrambling to plan parties, organize last family vacations and make it through the final push of the school year. They are scouring their tubs and buying extra ice and paper plates to accommodate the crush of visitors driving to their houses in small droves, crunching sunflowers seeds to stay awake.
It’s May 2016, which means I’ve been a mother for eighteen years. It’s May and when I went to pick up bread from Costco, I walked past two metal carts stacked high with tray after tray of graduation cakes. The thick buttercream “congratulations graduate” words were written yesterday and have started bleeding red into the white frosting backdrop.
It’s May, and the house on the corner has a bunch of bright golden daffodils that are still stubbornly turning their faces to the sun, even though their leaves are yellow and drooping. It’s May, and my youngest Logan needs lunch money and I forgot my purse when I dropped him off, so I had to circle back home to school like a loop, and go inside to find him. It’s May. Wretched May. And yesterday while I waited by the school curb for Spencer to come out of rehearsal, I scrolled through facebook absently. Ran my finger along the smooth glass of my phone, the happy faces of children I’ve known since they were toddlers smiling back. Kids who used to come to my house and leave their half-eaten otter pops to melt on my couch while they searched through the frozen box for a better flavor than blue.
It’s May. There’s still five more days until June.
It’s May, and I have no prom pictures to take up memory on my phone and my son Alex is not graduating, yet. You can measure his frustration to the beat of his sleepless nights, and the regular outbursts. It’s May and I tell myself the same thing I told myself in April, and December, and last July, “You have to measure Alex against Alex Joanie! Is he making progress when measured against himself? Yes. He is. So simmer down.” I talk to myself while I walk towards the middle school. Talk to myself as I wait in attendance office for Logan to come get the sweaty twenty I hold in my hand. I force myself to count like blessings the ways he’s growing up, the moments of success, his sweet face and the flecks of gold I catch in his baby blues when he will look me in the eye.
Logan arrived sweaty from his gym class. He smiles at me, ruddy cheeks, and downy head, grabs the twenty, shouts a quick thanks mom, and is gone in a flash. I wave to the secretaries, and follow him out of the office, but he is already turning the corner, and doesn’t know I am there. Inexplicably, I pause in the cinderblock hall, waiting to see if he will reemerge. But the hallway is as empty as an echo, so I turn to go home.
A wall of heat hits me as soon as I walk out the door. It’s May and all month heavy rain has kept the temperatures down, cancelled swim practices and turned our back yard into a jungle. It felt like spring, so it was easy to ignore the approach of summer. But the last few days the weather patterns have shifted, the days have grown warmer, the oppressive humidity of Texas has settled like unshed tears. I hope I gave him enough to make it through the end of the year. I say to empty sky.
The weather is oppressive. The summer will be long. The dense burden of heat grows heavier and heavier as I walk from the school to the car. The dew point is so high, that a thin sheen of sweat has already collected on my arms, beading into perfect pearls of grief, shining like diamonds.