The moment I had been dreading came and went. My son left for university.
The summer seemed to fly by. It’s not as if I spent every waking hour with him. There was work for him and for me. And time with the girlfriend. He took turns hanging out with his friends, figuring they would see each other again on breaks and holidays, knowing full well things would never be the same. We managed to find a few hours here and there for Mother-Son time. It gets hard to do so when they’re 18.
I’ve mostly been in denial. Even as we unloaded his things from the car and helped him set up his room, it seemed like just another summer camp, only this one would last much longer. I could see momentary fear in his eyes when we first arrived. Everything was so new, uncharted. As the day progressed and he was settled with familiar things around him, he seemed to relax.
On day three, it was time to let go. I gave his room one more motherly pass, wiping countertops and putting things away, and then there wasn’t anything left to do, except say goodbye. As if on cue, my husband went to get the car. I knelt beside my boy and said a prayer. I looked into his eyes and I saw that he was ready. The tears flowed momentarily but I reigned them in and put a smile on it. I kissed him and said goodbye.
As we drove away from campus onto the interstate, the tears escaped. So many memories came to mind. The day of his birth. The moment the doctor placed him on my stomach, still connected to me by the umbilical cord. The times he cried when someone he didn’t know well picked him up – those great big crocodile tears flowing like a waterfall and the cutest pout ever. Images of him grabbing his toes the way babies do. Watching him pour a bowl of scrambled eggs on his head and cracking up. The time he had pneumonia and lost all that weight. Multiple emergency room visits and IVs to calm his asthma, followed by endless popsicles. Him getting sick every time I had to go out-of-town on business. Him sitting and sulking in time out. Picking him up from school and knowing he was in trouble just from looking at his face. So many memories.
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A week has gone by. I keep myself busy. I’ve started Chinese language classes again and I have two knitting projects on the needles. And for the first time since we were married, my husband and I have had some one-on-one adult time (we both had kids when we met). I try not to think about him being away. There is a certain peace in knowing he is where he needs to be and I have to trust that I’ve prepared him as best as I could. It’s up to him to do the rest.