Expat Magazine

Ode to the Grown up Boy - on Leaving for University

By Holli
I’m pressing my head up against your warm chest, breathing you in for those last ticking seconds.
Your sturdy arms encircle me so briefly but so tightly. There is action around us, the lights of cars and cameras, swirl around. The car horns are a dull – only barely piercing my consciousness. The suitcases and carts and people are all petty distractions, the reality around us is nothing. I am flooded with the emotion that is everything. That is my entire heart, my soul - all escape in a hot mess of tears, and my last futile attempts to hold my baby close.
Just minutes ago, we were singing along to the songs that you brought into my life, that will forever connect us through time. No One is Ever Gonna Love You More than I Do… I sang so loudly. I sang those words like an anthem. Like a Band of Horses, they were my ode to you.
Ode to the grown up boy - on leaving for University

We didn’t speak on that last drive through the city, on the way to this moment at the airport, where you have grown up in an instant and now you are gone.
I close my eyes and breathe you in; you, the tiny warm body against mine, just hours after your birth. I am transported for just a second. I am only twenty three. Clueless. A kid myself, but so desperate to be the mom you deserve. I pat the warm smooth fluff of your newborn hair and hold your miracle earlobe in my fingers. I weep.
I am at once elated and terrified. How will I raise you up? What will I give you? What will it take? I am only comforted that the love I have is everything. It encompasses me and it is a shield around you.
And now, as you tower above me, eighteen years have vanished behind us. There is no looking back. You are a man. Have I done the right things? Has the love been enough? Will it shield you now?
You have become so much more than that twenty three year old could imagine. We grew up together, you and me, outside the box. On the edge. Sometimes I held you close to protect you, and at times it was you who held me. Like the middle name I chose for you in those first few days of life, you are, and you have always been ‘Mompati – my companion’. I took you far far away from home. Together we crossed continents and navigated cultures. We have found love and opportunity and profound sadness. We have found joy.
And somewhere in there, you grew up. My quiet, sensitive boy, you became a shining musician and a stellar speaker. You taught yourself the things I couldn’t, and you didn’t hold my weaknesses against me. You see me, the flawed, the fragile... The girl who raised you up with the best of intentions.
And I know today that somehow, the love I had was strong enough. You in turn are stronger. The world awaits you, and it has a great surprise coming.
Please never be afraid to shine or share yourself. You are my gift to the world and I am proud to send you out there. Send you, guitar in tow, with your pile of suitcases, back across the continents, as you head down the footpath at the departures hall. And as you turn to wave goodbye, though my eyes are blurred with tears, I can see that spark, and it calms my worried mother-heart.
Go well Mompati. I love you more than these silly words can say.

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