You know, Martin, when Ruthie was a freshman in high school, I was driving home from the grocery store one day and listening to the radio and I all of a sudden realized that in flour years she would be gone. And I felt like screaming. Not because I have nothing else in my life. Just because she would be gone. I pulled over and I wept so hard the car was shaking, and then I repaired my makeup in the rearview mirror, and then I cam home and made dinner and I never said a thing about it, although maybe I should have. Maybe I should have started telling you then. I was afraid,, I thinnk, that you would say, "Well, she'll visit," and the feeling would have been all of my eggs being walked on by boots."
~ Elizabeth Berg, Pull of the Moon
Yesterday I was driving home from work and I passed by a house on the corner which was completely decorated for Halloween. Bats and witches hanging from the rafters, pumpkins on the front porch, spider webs on the windows, the whole deal. It was lovely, and I smiled to myself thinking that young children must live there, that this is what I did when my girls were small. I thought about how they'd come home from school on an autumn afternoon when the temperature was finally dropping, we'd open the windows and let the breeze blow through the skeleton garland I'd hung from the curtains. Eat homemade cookies, discuss our Halloween costumes, plan when we'd go buy our pumpkins. Would they still pass out little cups of free cider at the farmer's market? How many squashes and how big? It was our favorite time of year, my girls and I, and we relished every moment of it. Suddenly, remembering all of this, an incredible feeling of melancholy overtook me and I found myself doing just what Elizabeth describes above - weeping, sobbing, overtaken with emotion, mourning the loss of those sweet days, those precious moments shared with my babies. They are grown now, I am losing them one by one..and please, please don't say the thing that Martin would, I know that they will visit, of course they will. But it is not the same, we all know that. They will no longer live under my roof, safe & sound where I can see them every day, wake up with them each morning. No more impromptu shopping trips, midnight chats or afternoon movies. It changes, once they move out, it just does. And, no, I do not cry because I don't have anything else in my life because I do. I have a partner and job and friends and hobbies...but they are not what define me, what completes me. What has always given me the most satisfaction, the most joy, has always been my role as a Mother. I need to feel needed, to nurture and caretake. Without that, I ask the cliche middle-of-life question: Who am I?
I feel so lost, without direction, bereft and confused and disappointed and scared. It is normal & natural, of course, this progression. Children do what they must: they grow up, they leave the nest, and life goes on! But why all of them at once? Lily is leaving for college in December, Brynna will follow in the summer. Kali and Kevin have taken up residence further away, though not a long drive it's one which requires a bit of forethought, they are no longer a stone's throw away. One by one they go, off to live their lives and though I celebrate them, am so proud of the strong independent young women they have become..I still weep..and I still want to hold onto those apron strings so tightly, and I still beseech the Universe, "But what about me? What do I do now?"
Ah, I am sure that part of this emotional upheaval is due to my approaching moontime, but I do not dismiss it as such. I know that much wisdom is revealed at this time of the month, and that if I listen very closely the goddess will answer my pleas for help, for direction. I'll be ok, I know I will, but at the moment the aching is so great, the longing for them so deep..I want to put up the silly skeletons, throw open the windows and perhaps if I close my eyes and wish really hard along with the autumn breeze will be the sound of little girl giggles filling my house once again...just for a day, can't I have those moments back? Please?