Life, It’s All About Loss, Isn’t It?

Every day, we go through hundreds, thousands of small loses, I’m about ready to burst into tears so I know it’s true. It’s one of those instinctual, hit me in the gut feelings. My grown-up children left to go back to college today and even though I will see them in three weeks, it doesn’t matter. Children always leave you. People you love always leave you. Why is that not written in any manual so we can anticipate it?

From their first highly anticipated step, to their first day of nursery school

and first grade your child will always be leaving you. Yes, it is good and you have done a great job in raising them. You should be proud of their independence and pat yourself on the back. You have done a great job building their self-esteem and their confidence, but it still hurts like a knife twisting into your belly cutting bloody veins with a torture only known to parents.

We experience that hurt from the moment that they are born until the moment we die. Our children will never understand it until they, themselves have babies of their own. Don’t bother explaining it to them, my kids are used to my tears, they think I’m just the mushiest person in the world, and I am. But, in no way do they think that every time they leave I feel like I’m being stabbed or that my heart breaks a thousand different times, every time they leave, nor should they ever know.

You would think I would get used to it but it’s something I can never get used to. I remember my parents used to travel a lot when I was in high school, maybe even junior high and I would weep, standing at the kitchen table, looking down six flights as they stood waving until their taxi arrived.

I was inconsolable until they left. Then, magically, I was quite happy and calm and independent. Why the shift of pain so rapidly? I’m not really sure, I hated being left, abandoned. But, once they left, I was independent and had a great time. Freud anyone?

Once someone actually leaves, I’m fine. It’s the build up and the anticipation that always gets to me, always has. At my old age I don’t think my patterns will change but I always give it a shot. “I’m not good at good-byes” I say honestly to my children, they expect it, they know and understand. But, they will only truly understand when/if they have children of their own.

Maybe we will be lucky to be grandparents, to see our children have children. To see our grown-up kids do the precise things they chastised us for, that would be funny. Life is a circle, how we got so far in the game, I have no idea. I feel young, time escapes us, but as I watch my children grow into adults, I know too, we have aged accordingly.

The Object Of Being Left

Dandelion gone to seed.

Image via Wikipedia

I sprayed after shave cologne on my wrists today, it was an old bottle with maybe an inch of liquid left inside it. I found it at my mother’s home, in an abandoned bathroom drawer, where she had hidden it after my father died. They were three odd-shaped bottles left, pushed back in a drawer like teenagers hiding beer or vodka. I took those almost empty bottles home with me and today I used one. The smell was so powerful and so familiar that tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I longed to see my father wearing his  soft plain purple and blue striped shirt and feel his  arms hugging me. I willed it to happen, almost believing it and then reality took over and left me alone with a sharp pain in my heart. I miss the one person in our family who knew me best with just a faint wink of an eye or a hint of a smile. I felt lost; I felt alone.

My dad died ten years ago and I don’t feel this way all the time but the pain goes away completely. I can feel fine for weeks or months and then some memory, a scent, the sight of his old shirt crumpled up in my closet will remind me harshly of my loss. When one is young no one tells you about all the pain you have ahead of you. When you are young you think you want to be grown-up and mature but you have no idea what that really feels like. There are times when it never feels good, not even for half of a single second of any one day.

I went grocery shopping today and met a friend whose son just graduated with my son. We talked about how their graduation from High School was hitting us both hard and in unexpected times and places. She said that once in a while she has to pull off on the side of the road to just cry and then, as if nothing happened, she puts her turn signal  back on and continue her journey. I have been on that road too. While I was in the grocery store I passed water guns and felt that same feeling of loss, I wanted to cry but I wouldn’t let myself. I thought about my son and his friends and the water gun fights, one tiny water gun pistol still sitting in the back of our old, big family car, moving from one side of the car to the other.

I came home and marched up the stairs to get to my room, as fast as I could hobble, to reach for my computer and for a bunch of tissues from a yellow box. The color yellow comforts me; it makes me feel happier. I thought about my son, who is a Counselor, away at camp. He left a week ago; I feel bereft. I don’t want to call him, though eventually I will. I’d rather wait to hear his voice on the phone, starting off with the same low-key “Hey.”I am being widely immature and over emotional, part of me knows that. He is not making the transition from home to camp to college easy for me. I wonder, if at college, will he forget about us as much? When he is at camp, his second home, we really do not exist and while I am proud of my independent son, today I feel sad and lonely. Here I am, at home, opening up the window of his musty room, surrounded by half eaten boxes of cookies. Pain, like accumulated  laundry that sits in the middle of his blue carpet, taunts me.