It's the last week of school for my boys, the beginning of summer. Boy in Black and his friends graduate this weekend. Shaggy Hair, Blonde Niece, and Skater Boy took their last Statewide Exam this morning. With-a-Why went this morning to his very last school picnic at the small neighborhood school that has been so wonderful for this shy smart child. In the fall, he will go to the big public school, where he will be one of hundreds of children in his grade.
All the spring concerts and piano recitals are over for the year. I've been going to concerts at With-a-Why's school since the early 1960s, since it is the elementary school I attended, and I admit I felt nostalgic as I sat on the bleachers for one last time, watching the kids pull back the worn green curtains. That old brick building, with its big windows full of sunshine, holds so many warm childhood memories for me.
I took With-a-Why to an eye appointment this afternoon – to get the kid contact lenses so he won’t have to look like Harry Potter any more. Because he was worn out from running around at his picnic, he actually sprawled onto my lap in the waiting room, his head cushioned against me, and fell asleep. I looked down at his long black eyelashes and long dangling legs. I know he won't fit on my lap much longer.
When we returned home, I found Boy in Black at the piano, playing and singing a Leonard Cohen song.
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
I listened to his deep voice draw out the words: "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah."
When he noticed me standing there listening, he looked up. "Bob Dylan covered this song," he explained. "And the Rufus Wainwright version is pretty popular too because it was in the movie Shrek."
I cannot explain why it happens but certain songs get into my head. For the rest of my life, when I hear that song, I will remember this day on the edge of summer, with sunlight reaching through the windows to touch my son at the piano, my daughter sitting on the stairs tying her running shoes and leaning close to confide in me, the rest of the boys out on the basketball court tossing a ball around -- all of my children living here in my home, safe and carefree, with options still spread before them like dandelions on a spring lawn.