On the Eve, That I Shall Leave
by Robin M. Butts
When I woke up this morning there was something missing. I looked over and there was my husband. I think. My husband for over twenty years, laying there like a piece of furniture. Usually he would be up wanting coffee and my company and I would always oblige him no matter my tired status. Finally, a peaceful morning alone. I placed my feet down at the side of the bed and slipped them into my loafer style slippers. My feet were there and I held my hands up to make sure there were no fingers missing. I stood on my two feet and walked to the bathroom to look in the mirror because I just couldn’t shake the feeling of absence. Loss. No more. I was a stranger here but yet in a familiar place and space. I cut on the light and my reflection was the epitome of what I was feeling. I looked closer into the brown eyes that were now sparkling and the pupil pulsating from this conflicted elixir of vibes that accompanied me when I woke up this morning. My small nose and full mouth that coveted splendid white teeth at my age of 38 was still in tact. I put my fingers in my mouth to make sure none of them was loose or about to fall out. I tell you, I woke up this morning and there was something missing. Something onerous has been truncated from my being. Now that I knew there was nothing missing physically I sighed in relief.
But there was something gone. I was scared to look around my neck. I couldn’t feel it. Could it be? Oh no. I cautiously opened up my pajama collar and there it was lying. A locket I received from my son when he was just 12 years old. Last night he left. He left to conquer this thing we all call life. Sharieff Akbar rode off in a two door red convertible BMW to Stanford College located in Connecticut. We had a small gathering of friends and family to wish him well and to unveil his new wheels. He deserved it. Always an excellent student and was forever my son.
“Momma, I can’t believe you did this.”
“Why, you don’t remember when we first sat in that car, you were just five years old and wanted us to have it.”
“Yes I remember.”
“And I said where your Daddy is going to sit.”
“He has his own car,” Sharieff said, as he laughed softly from the memory that was so vivid even after fourteen years of fermenting. Larry walked over. My husband was always a fine man. He had youth grinded between the teeth. Elegant. Handsome. Did I forget to mention, spineless.
“Your mother always gets the praise for everything. Do I get a thank you? Or maybe even a hug big guy.”
Sharieff nearly jumped into his father’s arms and started to kiss him all over his face.
Sharieff always wore his emotions on his sleeves when it came to Larry. Even when he was just a baby of five and would witness his verbal abuse. His total disrespect of the woman I was. The same man who hated the name I had given. His name has meaning.A great leader is what it means and that is what Sharieff Akbar was going to be. The number of times he argued about me staying home. How hard it was going to be financially while I reared him and stayed home and concentrated on the craft of my chosen profession, writing. The dreams and endeavors, the secret life that only I and God knew about. The seeds that HE planted that one day grew into a beautiful garden of thoughts and dreams becoming a reality on paperbacks and magazines. I am so glad I ignored what was not important. I praised God that I did not allow him to put me under.
“What are you thinking about my love?” Larry inquired.
“I know what you are thinking about. Come on lady, let’s go for a ride,” Sharieff said, as he grasped my right hand.
“What about me?”
“Did you forget Dad, this is a special dream deferred for me and my mother. Sorry.” I could tell that Larry was a bit taken back by the comment but as usual.
“Larry I just hope I come back to you in one piece, you know he has a hot foot on the gas pedal.”
“Just like his momma.”
Even though he was a bit soothed by the comment he still stood there and tried so hard to become our dream, our reality. I and Sharieff’s world where he never held any domain.
“Yeah, just like his momma,” I smiled.
Sharieff took me on the road and the smile tattooed on his face was so joyous to me. To see him so happy and to know he was fulfilling what I had always instilled in him. Seeing that I am sitting next to an extension of myself in the form of a young 19-year-old, 180 pounds, 6-foot young man makes me proud. Proud to be me.
“Momma I love the car.”
“I love where you are driving it to later this evening, and remember see if they have those 'my son is on the honor roll at Stanford University bumper stickers.'”
“I believe I have outgrown those, but I will see what they have.”
“They must have something for me to show on my bumper how proud I am with my only son.”
I looked around at the night. Dusk was painting itself across the skies. We were by Central Park when he told me to get out. He held my hand as we walked down 72nd Street. When I was younger and attended John Jay College on 59th street. I always found my way to Central Park. I dreamed there.
“You know that being the son of a well renowned, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and writer has it perks,” he smiled. I looked back at him with a smile. A perturbed smile. We walked over to a building that was lost somewhere in the sky.
“Good evening, Mr. Harris, Mrs. Harris.” I was completely thrown by the sentiment the door man had for my son in this building. I just bowed my head slightly at his friendly gesture. It seemed as though he knew of something I did not. Where was my son taking me too?
“The elevator is here.” The doorman draped in velvet and gold trimmings pushed a key in a lock and pressed the top floor which was 58. Sharieff let go of my hands and started to rub his palms and his outer hands nervously. He reminded me so much of myself when I was about to recite in front of thousands. I kept my smile and stayed patient. I wanted whatever he was to show me to be a surprise for me as well as for him. The doors slowly opened in an apartment. There in front of me were the lights that I have always dreamed of. The stars and the moon at my eyes reach. So close. I walked towards the night's splendor. The tranquility of the nocturnal skies. There was a voice behind me. I closed my eyes and listened with my soul.
I have taken flight off of your dreams and aspirations of me and concocted up my own with a bittersweet drop of what society threw at me by the perdiem. I have lived through you. I have ran through your veins like the hot liquid that keeps you going. God has blessed me for being an extension of you. For you are the lights of eye. The roar of the sea and serenity of a melodic tune that lies down upon my ears. I have loved you from the time I was excavated from your womb and placed on the left side of your chest where the rapid beating of your heart laid coveted. A melody I enjoyed and only I could understand. Me and you. Mother and son. I have known you since I first opened my eyes and looked directly into yours. Reflections, mirrors of me and my eternity. I saw through you. I felt through you. I emanate this day through you. Now on the eve that I shall leave I want you to take your dream for I am gone. No longer ask. No need to stay because I am gone. Your altruism demands the respect from God himself and I know this is your time now because this is the eve that I must leave. Take this dream and ride the peaceful wave and let it take you back to the dreams that were and still are fulfilling themselves. I have taken flight off of your dreams and landed right here. I love you momma.
I wanted to stay here forever. My son, the moon and the stars. My only true family. It reminded me of a poem that I wrote when he was just six years old when I used to lay him down to sleep. A prayer amongst friends.
I dream of his Moon being present and his Stars that he uses to communicate on the outside he does the same for the inside. I pray that he allows his Stars to look down deep inside of him. To embrace his essence and nurture. I pray that he allows his Moon to unleash a river so strong that it flows even deeper and emptying itself into the mouth of his Nile. Awakening and regurgitating it all too then again imbibe it. Consciously taste it and allow it to hold a tenacious taste on the tongue. Not allowing the slick tip of another to move it as if a mountain has been planted. I know when he says good morning with drool stuck and plastered at the side of his mouth, I see my prayers have been answered. I also see at the tip of his tongue room for more mountains to grow. “And they have.”
His voice awakened me back into reality. But the thing was, I was already here in the real world with my son staring into the eternal night from a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park. This was my first dream. Whenever I was “going to make it” I would live in a high rise building overlooking Central Park. It died out into a fantasy. Slowly drowned out over the years by Larry’s excuses and Sharieff’s needs at the time. I dreamed of this day. Is it here? I gave him a perturbed look. How could he afford such an apartment?
We both said at the same time, “IBM”.
When he was 10, I gave him twenty shares of IBM stock for his birthday. I told him that this would benefit him in the long run. Even though his face frowned a bit because he wanted a ten speed BMX bike. He looked at me bravely and smiled as he is doing at this moment. Not the boyish smile but a true man’s grin.
“Mother this is your apartment; I want you to live out your first dream. I want you to live here alone. I want you to live for yourself and no longer for me. I hope when you wake up in the morning you will make the decision for yourself and you know that I will stand beside you which ever way you choose.”
His eyes were clouded with tears and his mouth trembled trying so hard not to spit out his heart. I grabbed him and held him so tight. Reality rushed in like a river. He knew so many things. The things that I lived with. The concocted smiles which were the epitome of what I was really feeling. The times that his little wiry arms wanted to be full with me and to whisper in my ear, “I love you,” after Larry’s futile attempts to depredate the woman I was with his nasty subaltern verbal abuse. My Sharieff knew so many things, as he does now. The times he would sneak up behind me and wipe my tears away. Trying to be strong for his mother and he was just that. My strength but he was also my weakness that kept me in a dysfunctional quagmire of what a nuclear triumvirate was supposed to be. On the eve that he would leave, not only did he fulfill a dream, was he also trying to set me free?
I walked over to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and realized the gracious clouds with silver lining. I, mesmerized by the peaceful colors that are shining on me. I sat in a chair that had no companions and sipped as I looked on at the limitless skies. I know now what I am missing and that is a dream because it was filled the night before by my son on the eve he left me.