As I have fallen off the grid lately, intentionally, I have stolen a few moments here and there to just check in to see where the world is at. A brief glance at Facebook, and I am reminded why this is my least favorite time of year.
Here they come. Posts of friends and their sons and daughters headed to college. Packed cars, unpacked dorm rooms and, in a few words or more, posts stream in about how proud and happy and sad parents are.
This takes my breath away.
I have endured such traumatic loss in my lifetime, I cannot bear the thought of my kids leaving home. Naturally, I want the best for them. God’s best for them. But, I know the road of loss – and apart from not walking with God – it is the most lonely road in the entire world.
I read the posts and admire the photos, then the lump in my throat swells. Eyes sting with salty tears. My heart sinks as if it were my turn to kiss my babies’ heads one more time before closing the car door and leaving them on the green campus of their new home.
I just can’t take it.
It’s a selfish feeling, not wanting them to ever leave. But, it gives me very small solace in understanding my issues. Loss is extremely and especially hard for me. Change is even harder. I am well-acquainted with “new normals” and “survival” and “perspective.” I get it, but it doesn’t guarantee relief in every situation.
This time of year, I typically reflect on the summer and all the memories it generously offers. I prepare as best I can for the new school year. Then, another wave of friends sends their precious not-so-little children to college and a tsunami of guilt and sorrow floods my heart.
I should have done more with them. The science experiment. The makeover. The board games, I lament. This is the only summer my kids will ever be this age.
The balance of my heart and head swings like a sail blown wildly in the wind. I tell myself to give me break. To be thankful for what we did do together. To know that one person cannot be everything to everyone.
Then more photos and stories roll in via FB, text or conversation.
I, praise God, have a few more years before it’s our turn to post stories and photos, and on one hand it helps me prepare to hear others as they work through their grief. On the other hand, however, knowing this is such a tender subject for me, I lose myself in unnecessary grief at the moment. It’s not my turn, and this premature grief is stealing the joy from the moments I have with my children now. My babies are still home.
Everyone has scars. Everyone has a story. The epicenter of my story is loss, and what is so frustrating is that it is something that I cannot get away from.
Loss will continue whether I want it to or not. Change brings change. I can only continue to try to adapt. My kids tell me that I am one of the most optimistic people they know. I reply, “My mom always said, ‘If you have a choice to laugh or cry…laugh.'”
I’m enjoying every laugh now, and pray it will give me strength when the inevitable tears come.
At the end of the day, I remind myself that this earth is not my home. God is preparing a place for me, and in that place there is no sorrow, tears or guilt or goodbyes. There is freedom and joy and peace. That promise is what rocks me to sleep.
Hugging my kids a little tighter tonight.