Last week was the first week of school. Grayson started the 5th grade and is currently enjoying his "senior" status on the elementary school campus. As usual we had our first day ritual, a leisurely breakfast followed by a whirlwind final check of the backpack and self-conscious wardrobe review to check for "coolness".
Last year we walked to school with Grayson's cousin. This year, his cousin is on the Safety Patrol, and Grayson was too cool to walk to school with me. I wasn't allowed to walk him in either. A quick drop-off at the curb was what he wanted, and I obliged his 10-year old sensibilities.
The first day of school is always hard for me. The first day of a new school year marks the speedy passage of time, and reminds me each year that Grayson is growing up so fast, and only experienced that day once with his Dad. We took Grayson to kindergarten together, and Daniel amazed and awed the kindergarten class with his new electrolarynx (electronic voicebox, his had been removed surgically in cancer treatment). Fortunately they were all still young enough to think it was uber-cool, and Grayson had instant kindergarten cachet. :)
Five years have passed since the only "first day" of school we celebrated as a family. Five years later for me, the emotions haven't changed. As I watched him move up the walk towards the school doors, I was so proud of him. Yet, so sad for him and for us. These are the days that I am most aware of what the two of them are missing in each other. These are the days that kick me in the gut. I drove away from the school with tears in my eyes. I'm so sad that Daniel isn't here to experience the joy of being a part of Grayson's life. I don't care how great heaven is, I know he'd rather be here - dropping him off at school, talking to him about girls, playing one-on-one in the driveway.
Unfortunately, he's not with him. For whatever reason or twist of fate, I am. I'm so very grateful to be in Grayson's life and so thankful for all the people in our lives who love us. It doesn't make it "all better", but it does make it easier.