Ona Gritz

Photo Credit: DeeAshley/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

It’s the summer before my son leaves for college, the season, friends with older kids warn me, he’s likely to rail, accuse, anything to cause a rift large enough to walk through to his new life. Mostly he’s just quieter than usual, internal, except the times when, knowing I’m at my writing desk, he tosses a deflated soccer ball against the living room wall.

“Sorry, I forgot,” he responds when I call to him to stop, a claim so outrageous I wonder if he does this less to rankle than to hear his own name spoken—loudly, firmly—to assure himself that we’re still us, he’s still here.

One evening we watch Friday Night Lights: the pilot, the second episode, and, though I’ve got a stack of dishes waiting, he’s supposed to walk the dog, and I don’t actually care for football, we can’t help but allow ourselves one more.

From then on, this is what we do, night after night, worry together about the star quarterback turned paraplegic; the bookish boy briefly loved by a troubled girl; the addict’s son whose body is brilliant at sports. At dinner, we talk about these Texans as though they’re our neighbors here in New Jersey. We gossip, predict, offer advice only the two of us hear.

Too soon, we finish the series and, for days, we’re both doleful, aimless, grieving this loss in place of the one we rarely mention, though of course it’s streaming toward us, mere weeks away.


Ona Gritz’s essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Utne Reader, MORE magazine, and elsewhere. “It’s Time,” which appeared in The Rumpus, was named a Notable Essay in Best American Essays, 2016. Her books include the memoir On the Whole: A Story of Mothering and Disability, and the poetry collections Geode and Border Songs: A Conversation in Poems, written with Daniel Simpson. Email: onafawn[at]

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