Our daughter left for college last week. We drove her to her dorm, unloaded a years’ supply of snacks and dorm supplies and then it was time to actually leave without her. To get into the vehicle and drive home without my little ray of sunshine. She had chatted the whole way there, talking excitedly about everything that entered her mind. The drive home was completely quiet. I’m pretty sure I scared my guy; for the first time in our marriage he tried to get me to talk.
I had no words to express the emptiness I felt. A friend had warned that I would feel like I had lost something for a few days and walk around in a fog. Yes, the fog was there, but it also felt like a gaping wound that everyone should be noticing and trying to cover for me. During that drive home I tried to think of what I could have done differently. Did we teach her everything she needed to know? How in the world is 18 years enough time to cover it all? What could I tell my friends to do to protect themselves from this terrible ache? The only thing I came up with was less:
If we had cut out all these things over the years, perhaps the hurt wouldn’t have been so great. Maybe it would have even been a relief to see her off, on her own for the first time. With this perspective I was suddenly okay with my open wound and puffy eyes. I’ve earned my right to feel this way because I have loved this girl with everything I’ve got.
I’ve hardly worn make-up all week because it gets washed away with tears too often right now, and that’s okay too. More than okay.