Four a.m. arrives with alarm clock insisting arms pull off bed covers and legs swing toward the floor of morning.
Darkness surrounds; the trees stand like watchful sentinels against the sliver of moon. Our cabin window lights cast a circle in the forest.
Son offers a sip of strong bitter coffee. Ayiiii!!! That coffee tastes bitter! How can you drink it like that? He smiles cheekily, shadows of strong coffee bean spirits luring his eyes wider open.
We drum the car engine and back out the gravel driveway, aimed for the airport over an hour away. Darkness rules the highway, insisting we watch for leaping deer and waddling porcupine and lethal skunk. Don’t doze. Keep eyes flickering from one side of the road to the next.
We gauge the measure of light. Is it light yet? At what moment can we declare confidently, “Now it is light”? At the head of the bay streaks of light mingle with liquid dark. Later on pink stains the darkness so subtly you still can’t say. The edges of the road remain dark, mysterious, filled with danger. The Buick careens on northward, ever northward.
A swift desire for coffee births. Many miles must pass before an open gas station lures one inside with scents of hazelnut. This coffee lingers smooth and sweet. No bitter potency.
The airport road arrives blinking its signal light. Turn now, turn now, it says. The moment of departure looms closer. The baby who you carried in a distant past will settle his grown-up body in a too-small airplane seat and jet toward the Pacific Coast where seals splash silently into the surf and anemone shimmer in the tidal pools. You remember the salty breeze off San Diego and know it will soon claim him again from his rocky birth-shores of Lake Superior’s fathomless depths.
Tears prickle unexpectedly as we hug goodbye, goodbye, goodbye yet again. Go live your one wild & precious life, dear son. I ask only to hear stories of your backpacking climbs with Ryan, your Farmer’s Market finds with Seunghye, your research interviews. I thrill to know you run on the paths near Balboa Park with the desert cactus. That you ponder sociological questions so deeply that they crack open like walnuts or hazelnuts, revealing inner nourishment we will chew for years and years to come.
I park the car by the canal and breathe, over and over again following the breath in the body. Sun glints against the water. Breath rises again and again. Awareness follows the breath like the vapor follows the jet plane winging westward. Breathe in the chakras, out the chakras. Over and over and over again.
A bald eagle startles up over the canal with its white tail feathers, chased westward by nipping cawing crows and seagulls. The majestic bird attempts to rise, its wings flapping. The littlest birds join in the chase. Will the eagle rise? Will the eagle rise?
Up it goes, cloudward, persevering, rising above that which attempts to keep it down.
I open the car door handle and stand by the smooth water, watching. There! Up above! There goes the plane with its precious cargo, bound for Chicago. I see you, Chris! I love you, Chris! Fly wide and fly well, precious son. It is a joy to watch you navigate through the clouds and wind, the smooth-sailing vistas and the turbulence and delight. Fly well!
Bring us back stories again, will you? Precious stories of the song your soul sings on this blue and green planet spinning through the sacred breathing in, the sacred breathing out.