His final meet was Saturday, one last run for his seventh grade year. He runs the 400m, an endurance sprint incorporating the speed of the sprinter and the endurance of the half miler. Now, we Blases have never been known for our speed; we lean more toward the endurance side of the equation. But my son, my first born, the strength of my life has done well this season, making a lot of progress since that first practice. He's learning how to run this endurance sprint.
As we walked to the car afterwards I complimented him on finishing well, not first mind you but strong, and raised the question of next year. Oh, I'm running next year, Dad...I love it. My thirteen-year-old-taller-every-day-now-tanned-long-haired-son doesn't use the word love about an it that often. That's fine. He still tells me he loves me, so I'm good. But hearing he loves an it, running in general, and an event in particular he doesn't place first in, well that warmed the cockles of the old man's cardiac region.
Later that day I drove him to a friend's house. The invitation he'd received a few days before said "Movie night - 7 to 10pm...and there will be cheetos." I later learned that in addition to cheetos there would be girls, just a couple of them, apparently of sterling character. I walked him to the door, waved at his friend's mom, and watched my son run off into another race of sorts incorporating the desires of the son with the prayers of the father. As I made my way back on wobbly ankles to a car that needs washing, the sun was starting his slow fade over the mountains...dusk...the lighting of the lamps...vespers. I raised mine eyes to the hills from which cometh my help and spoke the words of eventide, for I do not love an it, but a boy, my son running once around the track all too quickly these days:
O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us...Glory be to the Father, and to the Son...Amen.