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Wellesley Weston Magazine: “A Lesson in Letting Go”

Life lessons do not always come at the most expected--or convenient--times.

Some excerpts:

    Much as my friends with older children tried to prepare me for sending my first child off to college, there were a few things they neglected to mention. One neighbor pulled me aside at a potluck supper and confessed that when she returned to her empty house after dropping her youngest off at college, she shut the door behind her and fell to the ground, keening. I, for one, would have found it helpful had they told me that there would be some “upside” to the wrenching transition I was about to go through. Instead, they spoke in hushed tones about their unending tears and the profound sense of loss they felt. As my son’s departure drew near, I braced for the worst.

    But after the ten-hour drive to Pittsburgh, the lugging of equipment to the dorm, and the awkward farewell dinner where it suddenly seemed we had nothing left to say to one another, the primary emotion I felt as I watched our son walk away from us was relief.

    Once back home, that relief gave way to something less easily defined. I couldn’t seem to accept the fact that our son was no longer living with us. My house, my life, felt like it was in a state of negative relief--filled with his absence. And while I remained dry-eyed, I was by no means clear-headed. During my weekly grocery shop, I put Dr. Brown’s soda in the shopping cart and made it all the way to the checkout line before remembering that my son wasn’t home to drink it. It was as though what I knew in my head had not yet reached the information center of my heart.

    Several weeks passed in this odd limbo. Then came Parents’ Weekend. We spent time with our son’s professors, had dinner with his friends, and toured the local attractions. It was clear our son was happy and adjusting well. If ever there was a time not to cry, this was it. Which is why I was so surprised when sobs erupted from deep inside of me the moment I went to hug the boy goodbye. I wasn’t keening, exactly, but at that moment I understood what all the fuss was about. Seeing our child so fully at home in a place that was not our home is what made me finally acknowledge the reality: Our son had moved on, and had done so in ways that involved far more than a change of address.

. . .