I walked through today as if in a dream.

Max made his first confession today.

How could that be?  How is it that he is old enough to do this, to receive this sacrament?  I kept remembering how, before we were even married, Jac and I dreamed and hoped and planned for this day.  We envisioned how we would prepare our children and the sort of things we would say and do to mark such a momentous occasion. Suddenly it was here and happening.

I know it may be different because I haven’t sent Max off to school so I haven’t experienced as many”My baby!” moments.  But I assure you that the nerves and anxiety and nostalgia I felt today was stronger than I’ve felt with any of his other milestones.

Today hit me in the chest.

It was so clear to me that this was a separation.  This was, in many, many ways, his first step out on his own.  Sure, he’s done things without us and exerted his independence, but this?  This was different.  This was him standing on his own, taking responsibility.  This was a rite of passage, a signal that he is growing.  This was something that, however much I prepared him and helped him, he had to do all on his own.  He was individual, independent, alone. This really was something only he would experience, leaving us out.

As it should be.  I knelt in the chapel and waited for him, my heart bursting.  I was filled with pride, nerves, loss, awe. . . if ever there was a feeling of bitter-sweet, this was it.  I prayed, fervent thoughts rushing about and getting tangled up.  I asked for strength for him, strength for me.  I wondered where time had gone and where it was running to.  I begged for the grace to recognize the small moments and celebrate the big ones.  And I worried.

Had we prepared him as we ought?  Had it been enough?  Was he ready? Could he do this and do it well?

All at once I knew Our Lady’s heart.  I saw our Lord, her son, being led before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate, to the scourging pillar and out to Golgotha.  I saw him under the weight of the cross and veiled in pain.  Surely, surely, Mary had to have wondered, “Did I prepare him well?  Was it enough? Is he ready? Can he do this?” And then she watched.  She had no such luxury of a quiet pew there in the screaming crowd.  She had to witness the struggle, the scorn and the shame.

Her son’s life given for mine. For Max.

Max exited the confessional walking tall.  He was changed, humbled.  And oh-so happy.  He felt the shift away from us and somehow that brought us closer – together and to Christ.  My young man knelt beside me and sighed a happy sigh.

“Now how many more days until Thanksgiving when I make my first communion?  That’s my BIG day!”

The count is on.