Too Many Goodbyes

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I called my son Andrew last night, and I told him, “I hate this whole f’ing growing up thing!”  He said, “Whoa, Mom!”  He knew what I meant.  We had been talking about his brother’s visit home last week.  While Andrew wanted to hear all about it, he hated the fact that he had not been able to come home, too.  He said, “I wish that I could be part of the antics, Mom.”

I loved having Luke home for a few days.  Everything felt more complete.  The house felt more full and familiar.  I hadn’t realized how much I had longed to hear the sound of his voice from across the house, or see his long body stretched out on the couch.  I had missed watching his interaction with his sisters.  Then it was over.  On Sunday morning, after a big breakfast, he began to load his car for the trip back to Milwaukee.  All too soon, his visit was over.

All of us gathered on the driveway as he loaded his last bag.  We were sending him home with groceries, home-baked goodies, and a few household items.  Each time he visits, he leaves fewer and fewer of his personal belongings at home, and I know why.  My home, our home, is not HIS home any longer.  It’s where he grew up.  It’s where Mom and Dad live, but his life and his future is someplace else.

As Luke climbed behind the wheel, T put his arm around me.  “Are you going to be OK, or are you saving that until later?”  I was shaky and trying to smile.  I didn’t want Luke to know how hard it was for me to see him leaving once again.

I suddenly felt very old.  T looked old, too, and I wondered where time has gone.  My mind raced.  Was there anything I was forgetting to send home with Luke?  Did I need to run back into the house and check one more time before he pulled out of the drive?

I was reminded of my grandparents.  For a moment, I could vividly picture them standing on the driveway next to their back door as T and I, and our little kids, left their house after a Sunday visit.  It was always the same:  looks of love, tinged with sadness and worry, and the hope that there would be many more visits.

After Luke’s car pulled away, I walked out to the empty backyard.  I remembered days and days, and years, of little boys playing in the sandbox, going so high on the swing set that my heart stood still, then watching as they jumped off right at the highest point.  I remembered the year when we grew miniature pumpkins that climbed up the pine trees, their fruit like orange Christmas ornaments.  I remembered Luke and his friend digging for buried treasure along the back fence row one summer.  Day after day, Luke and his buddy trooped across the yard with their shovels.  I saw a lifetime in my memories.  It was the very best part of my life, and I miss those days.

Transitions are not easy.  I am so very proud of my sons, yet I miss them terribly.  Life is changing.  We won’t all be together for Thanksgiving this year.  All of the kids won’t be able to make it home.  For the first time, I will also have no parents to join us for the holiday.  Christmas, same thing.  We don’t anticipate having the entire family together, but we’re working on a plan.  Yes, life is changing, and it scares the hell out of me.  I need to adapt.  I need to be able to change, too.  Life is not over.  A chapter has simply closed.

A new chapter will begin.  I just need to find the patience, strength, and trust enough to believe that whatever this new chapter brings will be as rewarding as the chapters that have come before.

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