To be published on www.changschoolcreates.ca
By Kathy G. Rupcic
Tonight I lean against my son’s doorjamb in the dark. It’s more or less the halfway vantage point between his room and his older sister’s. Once again, while passing thorough this empty upper floor, closing windows, shutting out lights, I felt it. Those firm hands on my shoulders, stopping and gently guiding me here.
It is in this very spot, in this very position, where I can overlook both rooms simultaneously, that I had prayed nights on end when they were younger. Prayed for and against things. Prayed thanks. Prayed for answers. Prayed for guidance. Prayed for protection.
There were a few times back then too that I had sensed that sure, kind grip, bringing me to a halt while in the midst of picking up clothes and toys and towels and knapsacks, closing windows, shutting out lights. Resting against this same doorjamb, I had watched and listened to their young thriving childhood bodies sleeping and growing. While the world seemed to be accelerating around us day by day, in these deep dark hours the kids lay safe and protected from the thoughts, instructions, opinions, trends, choices and beliefs that were constantly bombarding their young psyches. Breathing deeply, limbs splayed limp and free, free from any agenda; they just rested.
But tonight I reflect and pray over empty beds; beds whose bodies now sleep somewhere else far away. I think I could quite possibly stand here all night, letting memory after memory wash over me. My emotions are rolling in a surf of anticipation mixed with nostalgia. One wave crashes in with excitement for the future and as it pulls out, a gentle one rolls in bringing sweet, weepy longing for the past.
But I won’t weep. I already did that last week, in a crumpled heap on a hotel room floor in a city far away from here.
These are just waves, but that was a tsunami. The big one that had been tracking it’s way into my reality for the last few years. It had finally hit, taking my feet out from under me as I succumbed to the truth of its arrival. I was becoming an empty nester.
That day, we had just released Sammy to his new home. Adrienne was now truly entrenched in another city she had been calling home for the past year. Anyway, one minute I was on my way to draw a bath, and before I knew it, I was dropping to the floor the next, sobbing like I hadn’t done in years; and so grateful that I was alone in this full out surrender.
Crap, that had hurt. But who knows how long I’d actually been suppressing the anxiety? For awhile, I’d presented the stoic composure of a mom who fully supports her kids’ choice to fly off to distant cities, but at the same time silently struggled every day against a powerful current of impending loss.
Yes, I’d had a few glasses of wine at a bistro that evening with just my journal and myself. But thank God for the help! Let it all out! Purged and limp, I had finally made it to the tub where I soaked puffy-eyed and more than willing to let the warm water reduce me to a calming state of numb. I realized I had made it through. Some spots would be tender for a bit, but I would be ok.
“So it’s done now,” I stand in this hallway tonight thinking. These days their short weekend trips home for extra clothes, tying up loose ends or a buddy’s birthday won’t have the same sense of familiarity about them. Gradually, the returns to this base camp will become less vital. I can tell. Just like that, it really is over.
Even if I wanted to force an agenda, control this next era by administering a schedule of routine family gatherings and events, it wouldn’t work. I know I’m not that kind of mom. I never wanted to be. A gentle flood of reminders comes to mind now. I chose the life of a freelancer so that my work would never compete with our children. We mandated to raise them with a sense that there is a world beyond their home town begging to be explored. A world that needs them and all that they have to contribute. Like Tolkien’s Hobbits, their truest mission would be fulfilled but they had to get out of the Shire.
I had been promised they would be set aside for wonderful purposes and I had promised to believe those promises. Tonight, my deepest desires for them were actually asking to be recognized and fully released. The time was now. And that is the reason for tonight’s session at the doorjamb.
I feel the presence of warm hands release their soft, encouraging hold on my shoulders. I breathe in slowly and deeply as a sense of renewal floods through. I nod in agreement and with the deepest of gratitude, turn and head back down the stairs.