It’s all just an ongoing process of letting go, isn’t it, this business of raising kids?
And I don’t know how to do it.
I didn’t know how to do it when the nurse gently lifted that tiny burrito-blanketed bundle out of my arms and took him to the hospital nursery, even though it was just for the length of the nap I was supposed to take, but couldn’t. Because for the first time in nine months, he wasn’t with me.
I didn’t know how to do it when the lady in the church nursery had to peel his screaming, two-year-old body away from where he clung so desperately to my side.
I didn’t know how to do it when I dropped him off on his first day of kindergarten, and I cried the same tears ten years later because I still hadn’t figured it out on his first day of high school.
Now, the child who once clung is ripping himself out of my arms and my home in the most painful ways possible, barrelling head-first into adulthood even though he isn’t as ready for it as he believes. And I just I marvel over how 18 years of separations still haven’t prepared me one bit for this new reality of not having my oldest child in my life every day.
I don’t know how to do it.
None of my friends sending their kids off to college this fall seem to know how to manage it, either.
My sweet pastor friend in Uganda, Jacob, said goodbye today to his 17-year-old son, who lost a painful battle with bone cancer. A mutual friend of ours says Jacob is “grieving deeply.”
How could a loving parent be doing anything but? How is he even breathing, still? I sob for this child, Vincent, a boy as full of promise as my own son and I can’t imagine a permanent goodbye, no matter how much my eldest and I drive each other crazy right now.
I don’t know how Jacob and his wife are doing it. I don’t know how.
These children, they’re all just on loan, aren’t they, for just such a short, short time–some, a far too brief moment in time.
And in different ways, at different times, we do indeed have to let them go.
It sounds so simple, but it isn’t, at all.
Just open our hands and let them sift through our fingers, golden dust flecked with diamonds, mingled down into dirt and thorns, where they might grow into something they could’ve never become as long as we held onto them.
Or like Jacob, we are forced to fling them heavenward, where their brightness twinkles over us forever, our nights gently lit by these, our brightest stars.