Yesterday, late afternoon, the last home soccer game of my son's career. A wide sky stretches over the playing fields and the river. Flat blue clouds glint like paint in the pale light. We parents line up at field side--sentimental or tearful or embarrassed or awkward, or a jumble of all of these feelings. One by one, our sons' names and then his parents' names crackle over the speaker. Each person follows the dance steps. The boy hugs the coach. The coach presents the boy with a rose. The boy turns toward his parents, and the parents step forward. The boy hugs his mother and then his father. Each embrace is long and fervent. The boy presents his mother with the rose. Cameras click, and the three family members step back into the line of families. Like so many ceremonies, it is laced with both silliness and the poignancy of affection and loss. Our boys love us, and we love them. Now we are acting out our love on the soccer field, in front of a straggling crowd of grandparents and little children and classmates and the strangers of the opposing team.
Later in the day, a horse arrives to watch the game. Tom and I share a bag of popcorn and a blanket, and two small gulls swirl back and forth in the darkening sky. Our boys win. We drive home.