I could feel myself tensing the last few days. My stomach was clenched, with an uneasy feeling. Some might call it dread.
Why does it hit me so hard when my oldest child heads back to college? This is the tenth time I’ve said goodbye; you’d think I’d be used to it by now.
And I am. Life once the goodbye is over goes back to the new normal. It’s (fortunately and unfortunately) normal with only one child in the house. It’s (fortunately and unfortunately) normal with her life separate from mine. But it breaks my heart every time.
This time I was hit with a huge realization as to why.
When my mother left us to move into the Church fulltime, I had to say goodbye. Each Sunday evening (of the weekends I did get to see her), I had to say goodbye. Each time my heart broke. Each time I held back tears because I knew it was wrong to cry. She was living for God, and I was wrong to miss her. And wrong to have a broken heart when I said goodbye. She never cried. Why should I?
I had too many goodbyes when I was young. I think they get kicked up and reactivated when my child returns to college. I know it will be, most likely, ten weeks (seventy days, but who’s counting) until I see her again.
I know I’m fine and will be fine. I know she’s more than fine – thriving, happy, learning, having fun. I know I am too. I know this is as it “should” be (although deep down I know also know the beauty of multigenerational living – why should we not be with all the people we love?). And I know that all is good.
But it breaks my heart to say goodbye to her. Each and every time. At least now I know why, and now I can have compassion for myself and be glad that I can love someone(s) so much that I cry when they leave.
At least now I let myself cry.
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