You all mourned with me when my daughter left for college and celebrated when she came home for break. And heard my sadness when she left again, and joy when she came back. And then one more time, missing her when she went back after spring break…and she’s back!
I can honestly admit now that I wasn’t okay when she first went off to her new home in a faraway state. I felt like someone had amputated a limb, or cut out an essential body part. It was similar to how I felt when she was first born and I had to leave her for a day. As if somehow some of me was missing.
I can also admit that the aching went away and the missing got less, or at least less severe. By the end of her freshman year I was fine with her being a Midwesterner (at least for a little while) and I was used to my new normal of a family of three. I think my son enjoyed being an only child and having all the attention for himself. I hope he keeps enjoying it as he gets older.
But she came back just over a week ago. She has graced us with her presence for this summer, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I know she may not be here many summers (or even any other summers) and I have to admit, it’s amazing having her home.
It’s wonderful to watch the family dynamics swing back to a family of four. It’s wonderful spending hours talking with her late at night. It’s wonderful just seeing her sitting in her room, on her bed, watching TV shows on her computer again. It’s wonderful walking past her closed bedroom door again…knowing that it’s closed because she’s home and sleeping (or reading…or whatever).
It’s a gift. And it makes me stop and realize how many gifts we have – how many gifts I have. It makes me stop and realize that I can pay attention to the gifts and notice them and appreciate them, or I can take them for granted. I could take her for granted because it’s almost as if she never left (and will never leave again). But not quite because she has stories of people I don’t know and places I haven’t been…and she is different. In a good way.
And she will leave again, sooner than I care to admit. And I’ll be fine this time – missing her but fine. Happy for her, thrilled for her, delighted for her…and delighted that I stopped and appreciated every moment of the summer I could with my full family around me.
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