Letting go of my fear
TUESDAY, June 8 – A new day dawns, in spite of everything. So, you pick yourself up and get on with it. You have no choice. At any rate, in my view. In that respect I am uncompromising. Life goes on.
Eamonn had brought up his particular question the week before, and I suppose I should have been delighted. But now his request made me swallow hard. His question: Wasn’t it about time for him to bike back and forth from school by himself? Under any other circumstances I would have given the kid a hug and wished him good luck out in the wide, wide world. But now I was terror-stricken. Biking on his own?
Love means letting go of fear, a little more each time.
So this morning I decided to let him go on his own. I told Eamonn that I’d be right behind him but that I wouldn’t say anything. He was surprised. ‘You mean we’re not going to talk to each other?’
Nope. The twinkling in his eyes said it all.
I can’t count the times he’s scared me half out of my wits. By chattering away as if he was oblivious to the traffic around him. By colliding with other cyclists. By crossing the street diagonally without even looking behind him. I don’t know how many times I’ve warned him. It was as if he was unaware of all the dangers.
For months after Jennifer’s accident, he refused to go anywhere except by car. Cycling was taboo. Until the weather improved and he saw the advantages. Now it was time for the next step.
With his ‘invisible’ father behind him, he was a totally different kid. Concentrated, cautious, and, but yet self-confident. Braking, watching, waiting, and yet resolute. In the midst of all those pedaling daredevils who populate the morning traffic, Eamonn held his own. Nothing seemed to faze him.
The crucial test came on Minerva Lane where he had to cross Stadion Road: a busy intersection with no traffic lights but plenty of cars, bicycles, taxis, trams and no doubt the odd police car. Three hundred meters east, Stadion Road crosses Diepenbrock Street, where his mother was knocked to the ground. Eamonn had never revisited that spot and he closed his eyes every time we drove past it.
He crossed the road with verve. The rest of the route was a piece of cake. The final test came as he approached the school, where he had to cross diagonally to get to the school grounds. ‘And… how did I do?’ he asked expectantly. The mistakes amount to… zero!! Proud, proud, proud! And despite – or maybe because of – the stumbling blocks we encountered this past week, I do a little dance.
This afternoon we’ll repeat the exercise. And then I’ll have to get used to the idea. Whether I want to or not.
It’s called ‘letting go’.
12.30 – When I went to pick up a package, I had to show them my ID. I put my wallet on the counter, flipped to my driver’s license, and out rolled my wedding ring. I’d forgotten it was there. The cashier pretended she hadn’t noticed.
The envelope was sent from France by one of Jennifer’s best friends in college. There was a note, with photos of her wedding to G, now years ago. Jennifer had been her maid of honor. Five photos of my radiant wife. And yes, you can still tell which finger I wore my wedding ring on. Nothing wrong with that, I mumble to myself.