Did I tell you I love you?

He sauntered over, slumped into a chair and asked me. Without reply, he knew the effect.

“There is that smile. I love it when you smile. You and dad should smile more often. You’d be happier. ”

I’m reminded, then, of overwhelming obligations that hinder such a simple expression. But despite the pressure to catch up, to overcome,  I need to remember to live in the “now.”

He’s older, a teenager with a desire for independence and personal space. The countdown to graduation and adulthood is quick. And yet he’s here. In this moment. He has chosen to linger at the table with mom.

I sip my coffee. And we two survey the crowded cafeteria. Families with many little children create a cacophony of conversation. Dishes rattle.

“I hope we play you guys early in the season,” he says, voice rising and cracking as he builds enthusiasm about this sophomore endeavor. 

“Coach says… ” he rattles on about his pending football season. This year, we’re on junior varsity – later games and tougher expectations. He’s changed positions, too. Now he’s on the field with offense and could score with some plays.  The anticipation of the first scrimmage hovers in his thoughts, his dreams.  He’s ready.

I still have his jersey from last year, the jagged cut reminding me of the ambulance,  the neck brace,  the danger of this sport he loves.  I’m supposed to ‘upcycle’ the uniform into a cheer jersey for Ri. And she’s probably going to be his favorite cheerleader in the early minutes of his games.

He smiles and shoves a finger into the bridge of his glasses to push them into place. They slide right back, the red electrical tape showing on the side despite his efforts to color it black.

He surveys our neighboring tables discreetly,  noting no new patrons in his age bracket. And he rambles on.

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