As a parent, I quickly realized that life is one long series of letting go. These extensions of my genealogical and genetic tree quickly crawl, walk, run, and drive away. However, I was not prepared for the flood of emotions that came with the college chapter.
My first born son leaves in one day to attend Northern Arizona University. Despite the fact that I’ve been feeling weepy for the last couple weeks, the actual, imminent separation is devastating. I am hopeful that the lump rising in my throat, the random outbursts of tears, and the nauseated feeling I get when I imagine walking by his empty room will wane.
My heart is so full of love for him that it aches like a physical pain, and it’s that unbearable fullness that brings tears to my eyes. I will miss him terribly and the way we were. Things will now change between us, yet again. We will always be mother and son, but our time together will now come in broken up intervals. The light and life he brings into our home will now be sporadic.
I will worry about him because I desperately don’t want him to ever feel lost or alone. But I am certain that he will experience those “lost and alone” days, as everyone has them. I am confident he will self-soothe, with his emotional intelligence.
I am not at all worried that he will fail. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I have no doubt that he will be successful, because he is motivated and intellectually capable. He is walking into this bright new chapter of his life – where the possibilities are almost endless! I too must start my own new chapter. But I will be holding him in my heart, always, as that little boy and young man whose smile melts my heart and whose silliness makes my cloudy days bright. The tenderness of those moments will never leave me. There are endless ones to reflect on… and smile.
It is emotionally exhausting thinking about not physically having him here. But I take comfort knowing all our time spent together, which simultaneously seems like a lifetime, and the blink of an eye – will carry me through my state of sadness.
Sharing him with the world sucks. But his wing span is wide, and strong. He is beyond ready to fly. We will all soon adjust and I will see his grown and flown condition more clearly, as a beginning for both of us – not as an end.
With our family of four now driving away a family of three, I look back and hope I’ve done most things right – or right enough, that he will make wise choices, and that fortune goes his way. It is an ending and a very different beginning. This new transition scares and excites me, but most of all, right now, it makes me sad.
I will get to the other side.
But for now, I am mourning.
© Shannon Hogan Cohen 2017