AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: May 6, 2013 | COMMENTS: 4 Comments
CATEGORIES: compassionate parenting, Focusing on The Joy, Resilience, Teenage Trouble,
Having you ever been looking forward to something and dreading it at the same time? Have you ever wanted to attend an event but not wanted to go at the same time?
I have…on both counts.
Last Thursday night held one of those events for me. The “to do”was called A Senior Mom’s Reflection. Held at Drew’s high school, the purpose of the evening was to set the tone for a prayerful goodbye to our sons. I knew it would be a lovely evening full of anecdotes and images of my son and his classmates navigating the halls of his high school. And I am eager to celebrate this whole graduation milestone for my first born. I’m excited for him.
I’m dreading Drew leaving. I mean really…really dreading it. I never thought I’d be that mom.
I’ll never forget the day my parents dropped me off at college. I was so excited and not at all devastated when they left. Sure, I’d miss them, but I couldn’t wait to exercise my independence in my new world with new people. I don’t even remember our goodbye scene. It all must have been very blase’. That’s why I was so stunned when later that evening I watched my roommate and her family tearfully say goodbye. Not only was Amy crying, but her parents and younger brothers were crying. At the time I was baffled. This entire moving to college thing seemed so natural to me. How could this be giving my roommate’s family so much trouble?
Fast forward to Drew.
I am so over-the-moon excited for his future. Everything about Ohio University is a great fit for him. He’s running cross country so he’ll have instant friends that share a common interest (obsession). He’s going to study journalism which I know is exactly what he should do. (Drew is a natural born newsie who starts at least half of his sentences with the words, “Did you hear?“). Hell, he’s even met his roommate and I’ve met his roommate’s parents and all of them seem like first class good folk. I couldn’t be happier for him.
But, I’m sad, too.
Reagan and Isabella are just starting to say his name and Mary Kate adores him . Then there’s Ryan. I have flashbacks to when Drew headed off to kindergarten and Ry stood at the front door waiting for the school bus to bring his best friend home. The two of them are extremely close. They never fight. They hang out all the time. I know Drew leaving may open up a side of Ryan we’ve never seen before which could be a great thing, but I also know they will miss one another. Deeply.
Of course, then there’s me. It’s hard to put into words how much I’m going to miss Drew. He’s been such a pleasure to parent. In some ways, I think God tricked us by sending Drew and Ryan first. The two of them have truly been the easiest kids to raise. I’m so proud of the people they’ve grown up to be. I can’t imagine our day-to-day lives without either one of them.
When I mentioned the Senior Reflection to Drew he said, “Oh yeah. I had to write a letter to you. You’ll get it there.” That news brought me even more angst.
Now I have to worry about blubbering with an audience. I prefer to cry in private.
So, yes. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to go.
I went anyways.
When I walked through the door for the reflection I was surprised to see my friend, Cindy Hoeflinger. I didn’t expect for her to be there. Her son, and Drew’s friend since kindergarten, died in a car accident three months ago. Suddenly I felt like an ass. Talk about someone who has probably been to countless events over the past twelve weeks that she didn’t want to go to, but went anyways because she knew she needed to. I was so glad to see her.
We sat together during the program. We chatted about stuff moms shouldn’t have to chat about. She misses her son so much. There is anger and anguish. There is grief that could swallow a mother whole, but somehow she’s keeping it at bay. I remember thinking to myself that I had no idea how she was finding the strength to move forward. Then she shared this…
“I’m trying not to focus on why Brian died. I’ll never know why. Instead, I’m trying to concentrate on why Brian lived. What was his life supposed to teach me?”
When it was time to read our letters I was delighted to see that some of the boys had written Cindy letters, too. We all laughed at the funny stuff our sons wrote. We teared up at their gratitude. It was special. Very, very special.
When I arrived home that evening I thought about what Cindy had said. In the midst of her grief, she’s trying like hell to direct her focus in a productive direction. If she can do that when struggling through the death of her child, surely I can put my big girl panties on when thinking about Drew leaving us for college. Yes, things will change with him being away, but the experience of parenting a child in college will teach me if I concentrate on the lessons at hand.
I’m still dreading Drew leaving for college and with all the upcoming graduation festivities his exit from our lives is weighing heavily on my mind. However, that event that I didn’t want to attend, but went to anyways held gifts of wisdom, inspiration and perspective for me.
Thank goodness I went.
What a gift.
I humbly ask that all of you continue to keep Brian and Cindy Hoeflinger, their three surviving children, and all of Brian Jr.’s family and friends in your prayers. Cindy tells me the prayers are helping. Thank you.