Sometimes I whisper into the air. When I catch myself, I often wonder why I do it. Am I whispering to God? Is it because some part of me believes that words released into the atmosphere stay there forever? I don’t know.
What I do know is that most of my whispers are about you & your sister.
As you prepare to walk across the stage at The University of Kansas this evening to accept your degree, my heart swells with hope for your future.
But I’m also going to admit to you that I may have already cried a couple times this morning thinking about all the clues you left me as a child as to what kind of man you’d grow up to be. They all pointed to today.
You loved learning. You’d often spend the entirety of our time around the supper table educating us about whatever new seed of knowledge a great teacher had planted in your young, fertile brain.
You made fun of me when in elementary school one of those teachers, very diplomatically, of course, let me know that your math skills had surpassed mine and I shouldn’t feel any obligation to continue to “help” you with your homework.
You still delight in giving me fresh hell about that.
When you were 7 or so years old, I admonished you for some reason Mothers all over the world probably admonish their young sons. Maybe you’d put your elbows on the table during supper, or maybe you’d left your Hot Wheels strewn across the living room floor.
You looked at me, your eyes wide at the shocking realization that your very own Mother had just shown herself so uninformed as to how the universe works.
“I’m new here,” you said. “I’m still learning stuff.”
When presented with such a profound philosophical truth, you don’t argue. You can’t.
Even then you were figuring out your way in the world, already trying to make sense of the nonsense.
Around that same time, you presented me with a gift you’d made at school. Normally Mother’s Day gifts brought home from school consist of some variation of paint-dipped handprints or tissue paper flowers. Not that those aren’t great, because of course…
It was small, the size of a little box that contains a bar of soap. A month before, your teacher sent home a note asking parents send in empty Ivory soap boxes, so I sort of put 2 and 2 together.
It was covered in white paper with a sweet little poem printed on it, all tied up in a piece of pink curling ribbon.
“Never open it, Momma,” you warned me.
“Ok. I promise I won’t.”
“Because I whispered ‘I love you’ a bunch of times in it and if you open it you’ll let them out.”
Today I’m whispering I love you a bunch of times, son.
Hold my whispers of love close to your heart, and never let them out.
PS: I expect that I’ll be your date when you accept your first Oscar for best director. No pressure, but please be reminded that I have in my possession any number of potentially embarrassing photos of you. I’m not saying I’d give them to Access Hollywood, but in my senior years, I may be tricked into selling them.