From the earliest days of married life, you watched from the window as the Gingerbread Man left.
You watched him as he left to walk to class. You watched him as he got in the car to drive to work -- the Honda, then the Subaru, then the Saturn, then the Ford.
After the Ford became scrap metal, he biked to school. Four years of biking year-round in Michigan -- it's no wonder you watched him back then; he might have returned to you as an icicle. When degrees were granted and school was finished, you watched him drive away in the Toyota as he went to claim the other side of the desk at the university. Sometimes, you watched him commute again by bike, though not in winter.
You've watched all these years, catching a last glimpse as your love went away for the day. Coat on, a skip in his step, car door slammed or a bike helmet clipped on. Sometimes he sees you and smiles and waves. Often he doesn't, and you watch unobserved from the window.
You find yourself in the midst of a crowd. It's a brilliant fall day, the day of the cross-country middle school league championship. Runners in different color jerseys stretch and mingle while they await the start time.
You are wearing your mom-hat, there to cheer on the oldest gingerbread boy. You find him. He is eating. Nine times out of ten if you were to go looking for the gingerbread boy, he would be eating. Such is the life of a growing boy. You wish him luck and offer him water and carbs.
The girls are scheduled to run first. The course follows a trail through the woods surrounding an immaculate golf course then doubles back to end yards from the starting point.
You and the youngest gingerbread boy follow the crowd of parents as they line up at the edge of the starting point. You cheer for the girls as the gun signals the start, then you follow along to the one-mile mark, the place where the girls emerge from the woods to skirt the edge of the golf green. Someone has a co…