I sit here this morning, thinking that while it should be a sunny day in June, it feels more like a rainy day in March. I feel like a rainy day today. Summer is almost here and yet it still feels like early spring. The rain is beautiful. I can walk in it and it hides my tears. I find myself crying a lot lately. My home is quiet. My family will be waking soon, and asking where breakfast is and letting me know the things they have planned for the day which they forgot to make known until now, and my already hectic schedule will stretch and expand to accommodate a few more things.
With all the busy-ness I still feel the places left by my two oldest children who have recently graduated. I have been feeling the pain of this since the beginning of their senior year last fall. I have watched mothers as their children have flown the nest and wondered how they held things together, seemingly so full of calm and grace in this new adventure. As I have spoken to mothers of this overwhelming mix of emotions, I have discovered I am not the only parent who has struggled to keep an outward calm while inside fighting the mama bear down who wants to grab those grown children, wrap their arms tightly around them and say...no scream..."Don't go...not yet...it is too soon!" Are we ever ready? I cannot decide if I am more fearful of getting used to them being adults and moving on into their own lives, or not getting used to it. Will there always be this ache, or like other things in life will it slowly subside and be replaced with other thoughts and life circumstances?
We had the experience of two children graduating this year. I am very proud of them and their efforts. Miss Lili has scholarship to college. The day after graduation she loaded up the car and headed down the driveway. Of course being the family historian, a title I have given myself, I took photos of every gory moment much to the chagrin of my family...every hug, every box, every tear, as she headed away to her new adventures. She has landed on her feet. I wonder how parents did this pre-texting, pre-Facebook, pre-cell phones. I am able to have access to her many moments out of the day. I received pictures of her new home away from home; her new car, and texts telling my how much she misses us and is staying busy with her nannying job.
Kenneth, not quite ready to commit to four more years of school, has taken off on his Alaskan adventure, just a couple of weeks after his older sister. All I can think about are the moments I have gotten to be his mother, and praying for his safety and placing him in the hands of God. We do that all their lives, as parents, yet not having him right underfoot as I do this makes it seem as if the rubber has finally met the road with all of this faith stuff. He called us when he landed, and sent us pictures, but also let us know once they boarded the Salmon boat and started fishing, he was not sure when he would be able to call again. It has been days since we have heard from him and my mantra is "No news is good news." We have never gone this long without talking to him. This is a new path and I remind myself it is only 7 weeks, and then we will have him home again until he decides which adventure to take next. He is a story teller in his heart of hearts, and I know we will laugh at the many tales he returns with and I am sure I'll feel as if we narrowly escaped something cataclysmic.
The children who remain have all grieved in their own way. I held the youngest as she sobbed " I don't think I can do this mama. I can't say goodbye" I watched my son mope around the house missing his late night talks with his sister. Another son says he isn't going to shave until his brother returns, and I have had to tell yet another son he cannot stay in bed, he must greet the dawn without his brother to wrestle and rough house with. There were moments when I wanted to stay in bed, with the covers held tightly over my head, and my love gently said no and helped me face my day. I held my sweet husbands hand as we looked through their childhood pictures and wiped the tears from his eyes as we talked about our feelings of mixed emotions; this painful letting go...proud of the adults we raised but not wanting to let go of the child. I wondered if this would drive us apart, as I have seen happen with other couples when children start leaving the home. I am thankful to report it has added a richness and depth to our relationship I did not know existed.
I sat a few days ago, eating some sweet potato fries, feeling sorry for myself, really holding on to my sadness and despondency. I spoke with the gal who owns the place, and we teared up a little as we talked of the kids. I shared my inability to blog about this subject, and she encouraged me and reminded me; there are others who need to know this side of letting go. She was right. There are so many parents, grandparents, guardians, foster parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and friends who are going through this very thing. She wisely said it needed to be shared, so that we know we do not walk this path alone.
My little brother James Paul passed away in July of 1998, at the tender age of eighteen. When he was little, he was dare devil, always getting into skirmishes of one sort or another! My mom did her best to watch for what thing he could get into next. After catching him at an attempt of idiocy and thwarting another disaster, he shouted "Mom...your just a rainy day!" I'll never forget my mom's smile. She told him “rainy days are necessary. They are what water the earth, and the crops; they bring flowers, and rainbows, and mud puddles to jump in. They bring the gray, so we can appreciate the color of life" It is true, with all this sadness of letting go, there has been a lot of joy and family time. We had the parties, one more family photo session, and the last moments of tension, and laughter. I watched my grown children walk across that stage and accept their diplomas and I was not worried. I KNEW they were ready. Seth and I held hands surrounded by all those who have loved and supported us (and even a few who haven't) and felt the joy that comes with our sorrow. They can fly...they really can!