Love Means

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

32 Responses to “Love Means”

  1. Stephen

    Oh Wow. Suzanne, drug addled though you may be, that is great writing. I kept thinking “honesty” all the way through that. Honesty is WAY good.

  2. Tami

    Oh.My.God.
    Yes, I’m crying.
    Someone needs to publish this NOW. Amazing, heart wrenching, beautiful!

  3. Cristie Ritz King

    I always say the worst secret of motherhood is if you do it well, you set yourself up for certain heartbreak when you give them the tools to leave you. I have watched your tweets the last week or so and all I could think was “Oh Boston? Oh, man.” I am sure soon enough all you will feel is pride,but right now my heart is breaking for the heart break of your emptier nest, for you have done your job well and your babies have the tools to fly.

  4. Liz Tee

    Oh, it gets better. My heart broke when my daughter left for college, but watching my husband succumb to cancer is the hardest, most impossible letting go I’ve ever had to do. I still don’t know how I am going to do it.

  5. WebSavvyMom

    –>I think the cries of “I want you Mommy” are the hardest. I heard them this morning from my almost 4-year old. I know it will never be easy.

  6. Alexis

    What follows is a poem that hangs in my bathroom….I think I found it at our Renaissance Festival one year. Your entry made me think of it:
    AFTER A WHILE (Veronica Shoftshall, 1971)
    After a while you learn the subtle difference
    between holding a hand and chaining a soul
    and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
    and company doesn’t always mean security.
    And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
    and presents aren’t promises
    and you begin to accept
    your defeats
    with your head up
    and your eyes ahead
    with the grace of woman,
    not the grief of a child
    And you learn to build
    all your roads on today
    because tomorrow’s ground
    is too uncertain for plans
    and futures have a way
    of falling down in mid-flight.
    After a while you learn
    that even sunshine burns
    if you get too much
    so you plant your own garden
    and decorate your own soul
    instead of waiting for someone
    to bring you flowers.
    And you learn
    that you really can endure
    you really are strong
    you really do have worth
    and you learn
    and you learn
    with every goodbye, you learn…
    Of course my whole maternal stance is that we do our best to grow great kids so they can leave and THEN the little shits do just that! WTF? Seriously?? They LEAVE?? This is the thanks we get?!
    Hoping you have a lesser-pain day!

  7. Shari

    I love this. You are right about your belief. I also believe that if they can go far away and be independent, you’ve done a damn great job as a mom. BTW, my daughter leaves for college up to Northern California in a week. I’m ready, She’s ready. At this point, I am simply excited for all she will do,all she will learn, and all she has become already.

  8. GFE

    Today’s post is a great example of the distinction between your blog and the many thousands out there. I can’t read it without getting choked up. And, of course, being one of the people you let go of makes it even more powerful to me.

  9. vodkamom

    oh sweet JESUS you HAD TO MAKE ME CRY.
    Good thing I love you so.
    Pass the damn tissues

  10. TR

    Hey Mom
    LOVING Boston, but Cali will always be home! Lots of love!

  11. Ginger

    This WAS a beautiful post, and a bit unusual for you. I really liked it and from the comments so far, I think everyone else did, too. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do (so far) was to let go of my adorable, sweet, first grandchild AND her father, one day last October. They moved over 800 miles away.
    But at least I can go and visit.

  12. Freda

    I used to think it would be easy. Now all 4 of mine are grown with lives of their own. And still I cry: sometimes with pride, sometimes with worry, but always with love. Thank you for sharing your own experiences of Letting Go. Hope you have a good day painwise

  13. Alex

    I know I’m a little behind, but I loved this post. I moved away from home about three weeks ago and miss my mom (who is in Northern CA) like crazy. Thanks for sharing and really getting all of our thoughts out on paper (er…blog). Hugs!

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