Noll on 'Graduation'

In stages, in degrees, that which happens slowly over time often escapes us.  We do not experience the small changes, the graduation; the creeping, forward march of time until we consciously blink and see - as if for the first time - that something has changed.

Like the falling of leaves, the years of life drop off.  One day, the leaves are bright red, yellow-peach and gold.  The next, all but a few remain clinging to the tree. 
Noll is recovering from his graduation.  The signs were there before my closed eyes. I did not notice the extra long naps, his quietness before the storm.

His medical write up says "senior blood profile."  How did my baby Noll became a senior overnight?  Did I not see the leaves falling year after year?

But there they are:  Nine years since Noll stumbled into my life.  Nine years of falling leaves.
I pray for another nine
and then, nine more.