It's my last week to drive William around, as he gets his license on Thursday at the DMV. He already took and passed his on-road test at MasterDrive, so I know this is a done deal. I'm happy for William but nostalgic already for the conversations we've had over the past year as he drove home from practice with my heroically resisting the impulse to slam my foot on imaginary brakes. It's a double whammy; as William becomes more independent and most likely spends less time at home, his older sister prepares to move up to Boulder in August. And like water swirling faster and faster down into a toilet bowl, my time with them slips away.
Yesterday I drove the driver-to-be to a friend's house out by Cherry Creek Reservoir and we saw a magnificent double rainbow herald the end of yet another afternoon thunderstorm. Even as we skirted the suddenly deep puddles at the side of the lane and hit dismiss on the flash flood warning on our cell phones (the non-driver did that) this rainbow was extending across the water, shining so brightly that it created its own echo. A sign of luck and good fortune, I thought.
Which reminded me of a lovely early morning walk I had shared that day with good friends who also have teenagers and parents struggling with illness. Our shared stories took on the theme of parenting in our late forties and early fifties: delusion, denial and luck. We delude ourselves that we're as strong, flexible, and fit as we were in our thirties, that our children will be home for a good while yet, that our parents will live forever. When truth seeps in via injury, obstacle or news delivered via difficult phone call, we push it aside and deny factoids that threaten our equilibrium and ability to manage our families through another week of summer. I'm in this phase of denial with Aden's imminent departure to college. I pushed her box of of new, coordinated bedding and towels behind a large chair in the living room, not to be washed or even looked at until reality must be confronted.
When delusion and denial finally flee or are moved aside in moments of brave clarity, we pray for desired outcomes and hope that we get lucky. I hope that William drives safely and intelligently - and that he gets lucky, that Aden uses common sense in making good friends and choosing her classes - and that she gets lucky It helps to recognize that luck, or God, or some universal force, provides us with moments of grace and opportunity and joy. When I appreciate even small moments of luck (William passing his driver's test, rainstorms canceling out conflicting events last night), I am filled with a sense of gratitude that sustains and comforts me, even when denial and delusion eventually fail.