Saturday, October 15, 2016

Letting Go

October 14, 2016 I don't remember it being this way when I went through it the first time. Or the second. The first time, my perspective was a bit different; I was the one leaving, and it was just another step towards independence. Ever since I was fourteen, I had spent summers away from home, working in summer camps, so going off to college didn't seem like a big deal. It was only years later that it occurred to me to ask my mother what it was like for her, and to discover that a part of her heart waved goodbye when they dropped me off and unloaded all the stuff that a freshman would need for the next few months. The matter was never discussed with my grandparents. When we left our firstborn at Roberts Wesleyan, everyone was brave for the farewell, but I had to pull to the side of the road while Linda, myself, Matt and Jessie broke down in tears. We had never before been separated from each other for more than a few days. But we gradually got used to the new routine. Except I think, for Matt, who had always been especially close to his brother, and who followed him to Roberts two years later. Twice now, Linda and I have visited and said goodbye to our granddaughter Alex. The visits are always good, the goodbyes not so much. We manage to hold it together, although the hugs at the end are long and sweet, and I felt Alex swallow the lump in her throat as we embraced. It's good, but not all things good are easy. Yesterday I spoke truer words than I realized at the time when I told of my father-in-law's strong hands that found it harder to let go than to hold on. And yet it is in that relinquishing of what has been our delight that opens the door to new possibilities for Alex. Were we to hold on, the family circle would remain intact, but we would never know the joy of watching her excitement at learning new things, or meeting a new wider circle of friends who bless and are blessed in her presence, and someday, the young man she will most likely meet and marry, nor the great-grandchildren issuing from that union. Letting go is the best and hardest gift a parent or grandparent can give their children. It opens the heart, which while it can be painful, readies it for a love that is both deeper and more expansive, reflecting even the heart of God. For this, that Alex teaches me, I am grateful tonight.

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