If it really was, here is where I would stop. The very next exit would be noted, the right signal engaged, the brakes pressed. This exit would be taken- to rest and stay awhile. Not for quitting, but for lingering. The type of lingering done when you’re on a long cross country trip, and though on the path to a destination, the travel is made up of a few stopping points along the way. This would be our chosen, planned-for stopping point. This would be the exit. To absorb, to slow down, to breathe in this moment as a dry cloth pulling up water.
I would take this time, and see the sun on their shoulders, the length of their limbs, the rim of straw-colored hair. I would look across at the three of them, and see years- when they first were put in my arms, when we first met them in that crescendo of love and responsibility. See the tired years of them needing us for every small thing, so helpless and dependent. Learning and living and growing together. The years of slowly nudging them on and hoping they wouldn’t see my own tears in small spurts of letting go. I would take this exit, now, when they are not too grown up, but still somehow independent. When they don’t need us for every small thing, but they still want us near. This is where I would stop awhile, to just sit quietly in the grass on a sunny day and see little confetti freckles on her face, see that tired look of contentment in her blue eyes, and smile, knowing where those blue eyes come from. I’d notice that droopy little lid that says she’s tired but so happy in her element. I’d notice his soft cheeks and the curvature of those eyelashes creating a perimeter around his almond green eyes. I’d see those plump pink lips and smile, knowing where they come from. The crooked front teeth, the shaped shoulders, the long arms. I’d see his soft ears and fuzzy head and reach across and ruffle his hair, and probably squish an ear at the same time. I’d notice that little freckle by his mouth, the vertical scar at his right brow, see the small bump on his lower lip from those bottom braces. I’d make note of the angled limbs, the elbows on knees, the boy who won’t be a boy for long. I’d see the tousled longer hair and grin at the thought that he wants to grow it out- again. I might reach across and tousle it some more if he wouldn’t roll his eyes. I’d see the ‘Irish chin’, the term that Paul coined and teases us about, and smile, knowing where it comes from. I’d notice their everyday clothes, their favorite comfortable shirts, the ease of their demeanor, and be glad they are content. I’d feel an ache in my heart, a yearning for cessation, somehow complete with a burgeoning hope for the road ahead. I’d find Paul’s blue eyes and look at him and know he understands the moisture in my own, that this is where we belong, the right place, where we want to be.
If life really was a highway, I’d take this exit, right now. And then find a place to stay awhile.