I look back at my life, at the people and places I've loved, and it seems, time and time again, love means letting go.
I remember, vividly, letting go of my mother's hand, at age four, when I began kindergarten. I still remember the bittersweet expectation of exciting things ahead of me, and the knowledge things would never again be the same. The scent of crayons and play-doh hung in the air and I knew right then, by releasing her hand, I was letting go.
A few years later, a best friend moved hundreds of miles away. We swore we'd stay in touch and be best friends forever. Of course, we didn't. I still think of her now and then, all these years later. I wonder if she's led a happy life. I wonder if she remembers me at all. It was my first experience at letting go of a much loved friend.
Sadly – only a year later – one of my first school crushes died of a childhood disease. He was nine. I remember shedding tears over the loss of my "boyfriend." Other children and parents cried with me. Once again, I learned the very difficult, heartbreaking, lesson of loving and letting go.
Like everyone, I've had the heartbreak of lost friendships. My best friend of several years got lost in a world of drugs and gangs in high school. We parted ways and I watched helplessly as her life crumbled around her.
And crumble it did … ending with a suicide.
There was nothing I could do.
In my twenties, a time of transitions, there were good friends, and lovers, who eventually all moved on with their lives.
As I moved on with mine.
Eventually I found myself with a husband, a family, and a new set of friends.
I gave birth to a little girl. A few years later, I held her hand as I walked her to her first day of kindergarten. She looked at me with the bittersweet expectation of exciting things ahead of her, and the knowledge things would never again be the same. The scent of crayons and play-doh hung in the air and I knew right then, by releasing her hand, I was letting go.
Her first day of kindergarten was followed, eventually, by those of her two brothers. Our family had grown.
The years went by in a blur of school, and sports, and activities, and busyness.
Time and again, throughout it all, I held their hands, hugged them, and encouraged them to chase their dreams.
This month my two oldest children left home for colleges over 3,000 miles away. As they left, they looked at me with the bittersweet expectation of exciting things ahead of them and the knowledge things would never again be the same.
As we said our good-byes, I hugged them once again. I cried tears of pride, and sadness, and excitement for the lives they have ahead of them.
It seems to me …
Love means letting go.
© Twenty Four At Heart