Sobbing in the Subway Line
“There is a lady in front of me at Subway who is crying hysterically because this is her last meal with her daughter. Awwww…”
Boston University returns to life after summer break. My son, who spent the summer on campus, watches her resurrection. Swarms of parents and students cart furniture, bedding and luggage up and down busy city streets. Parking lots spill packed-to-the-gills SUVs. The inevitable goodbyes vary: some happen with a wave and a smile; others, especially with the freshmen, take a different turn. In late August, the sight of sobbing mothers staggering through the streets of Boston, with its sixty-plus colleges, is common. My son's words, flashing across my cell phone screen, hit me hard and stopped me cold.
Ten days. We only have those few days left with our youngest before she leaves for her freshman year at St Olaf College. As I eyeball the last page of this chapter--these final days she is home--grief grips me. The day I looked forward to when the children were little, when I was overtaken with their needs and just wanted a corner for myself, has arrived. In the years since then, though, I've learned much about sacrifice, about setting "me" and "my corner" aside and focusing on their needs and what God wants of me as a mother. Although I was never perfect or even noteworthy, God was faithful--He formed two capable and kind young adults who love Him. I gaze with wonder at His handiwork.
It is funny. I finally “got” this mothering thing, this sacrificing for the well-being of one's kids. Yet today I have to let it go. They need me to stop so they can begin the adult journey of relying on God. Yes, it is funny...once again, I have to give up something for their sake...
Ten days. The shopping is done, mostly. The list is made, mostly. The packing is about to begin. I cannot stop it, nor do I want to. Life is as it should be, yet sometimes I wish I could go back and revisit fleeting moments when they were little and laughing, when they'd run around the house just to run around the house, when sweet kisses goodnight on chubby children's cheeks warmed me from inside out. No...I cannot go back, those moments are gone. All I have are these moments. I must not miss these moments, even the bittersweet ones of saying "goodbye" to my daughter’s childhood and "hello" to our new adult-to-adult relationship. She is ready for this transition, which is good, which makes saying goodbye easier. I'm not ready, though. Like Hide and Seek's, "Ready or not, here I come,” time is up and I'm still looking for a place.
Ten days. In ten days I'll watch her step into life without me nearby...in ten days my life shifts significantly. No "Mom" ringing through our home. No family meals to serve. No silly girl talk in the bathroom. No hugs goodnight or teenage friends dropping in. Can I do this? Can I finish this chapter and begin the next, even when the page is wet with tears, the ink blurry, and I can't read a thing?
God, please help me...please help all mothers sobbing in the Subway line...