Coming Up For Air

This is the time of year when many moms and dads are experiencing what Gary and I have gone through this week – saying goodbye to an adult child who is going to college or moving away for a job or has gotten married or any number of other scenarios.  Our daughter, Andrea, was accepted into the graduate program at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and will pursue her master’s………….and probably PhD……….in Forensic Genetics.  Can you tell that we’re proud of her?  She has been so patient to wait on God’s timing for this big decision, and in the past six months He definitely opened some amazing doors in order for her to move in this direction now.

But she is still our little girl in our hearts in many ways, even as we’ve seen her mature and assume major responsibilities over the past few years.  She went straight from college into a job as an EMT in an inner city emergency room, handling all sorts of traumas and stresses with her quiet strength.  Then she spent a calmer year as an assistant to a Sports Medicine doctor in a normal clinic setting.  And for the past six months, she worked as a Microbiologist in a pharmaceutical lab.  All of these experiences helped confirm to her what she felt like God wanted her to do………which was none of the above!  Her acceptance into grad school came at just the right time in very many ways, and we are all very pleased and thankful.

It was still heart wrenching to drive away from her this past week and watch her walk back to her apartment while we traveled back home without her.  She has lived an hour away for the past six months, and that was good preparation for her and for us.  But now she’s far enough away that those weekend visits won’t happen like they used to.  Distance and the demands of school will make our visits far fewer and farther between than we’ve ever had before.  I know that we appreciate technology now, too, more than we ever have before!  She and her brother Andrew are only a text or a Skype session away………but still…………

All this leaving business leaves me drained………fragile………unbalanced.  And very emotional.  But truly, as I knew it would, the feelings are becoming easier to manage.  I remember when Andrew left for college.  For his first year, he was only 40 miles away but as I said goodbye to him I cried as if I was leaving him in Alaska.  He awkwardly patted me as we hugged and he said, “Uh, Mom…….I’m only 40 miles away.”  Kids just don’t understand a mother’s heart!  I smile now, and I so remember the actual physical dizziness I felt for several days after he left.  When our children leave, we seem to lose part of our purpose and our routine, and the hole left in our heart makes it hard to stand up straight and breathe.  But we must breathe and we must go on and we must function.  Somehow we do.  God is faithful that way as he enables us to go forward in His strength.

And then Gary and I have Aaron.  Good old blunt Aaron.  Not just blunt, either………..but verbalizing this whole goodbye process as he tries to come to grips with the fact that his sister has moved so far away.  Distance is relative to Aaron.  He can’t touch it or see it, so it’s hard for him to grasp.  When Andrea lived an hour away, he was used to her coming home on Saturdays and spending the night.  Still he would often ask, “Mom, is Andrea coming over on Saturday?”

The other day, after we had returned from taking her to Texas, Aaron asked his familiar question.  “Mom, is Andrea coming over on Saturday?”

No, Aaron.  She isn’t coming over on Saturday.

“On Friday is Andrea coming?”

No, not on Friday, either.

He persisted.  “But can’t there be any other days that she can visit?”

I reminded him of the map we had examined and that her new home is now too far away for many visits.

And the final reality.  “No more coming to visit?  Is that it?”

Oh Aaron.  I managed to keep from crying and I assured him that we would see her………….just not as often………..and he walked away with not another word, trying to absorb this new part of his life.

I can’t wait for his first Skype experience with his sister……….to see and hear how he’ll react.  Knowing Aaron, he’ll just laugh uncomfortably and then launch into the kinds of things he launched into at breakfast with Gary and I.   It’ll be all about him and his interests, but that’s what we expect and that’s what makes us laugh.  As he told me this morning, “Mom, I was watching a Looney Tunes video last night before bed and I was laughing so hard my eyes became watery!”

I know, Aaron.  My eyes are watery lately, too!  And it’s not always because I’m laughing, but it’s OK.  I’m breathing and I’m thankful for all of my children…………and I’m very much looking forward to the next time that they can come over for a visit!!

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