My oldest is about to graduate from college this year, and I have been thinking about the process of nurturing and letting go.  I wrote this a number of years ago, when he went off to sleep-away camp for the first time.  Funny, to me it doesn’t seem so long ago.

***************************************

Daniel

 

Absence

Is an ache

Not like the active toothache

But like the way your tongue keeps working a spot

Where the tooth is gone,

The way your jaw remembers that place.

The pain isn’t stabbing or shooting

But constant

A sense of loss

Of being missed

Of something that was so much a part of you

That its absence makes clear

Just how essential.

 

You grow so fast, so far away.

I cleaned your closet in your absence

Finding old treasures, long forgotten,

Finding the badges of your courage,

Achingly.

 

The letting go is hard–

Harder than I thought.

But the joy in the progress, the growth,

The glimmers of the man you will become,

Make me hopeful.

 

So I sit with tears now

That I can’t tell you about.

Tears after the heartfelt hug you gave

In spite of wanting to be macho in front of your friends.

Tears when I heard your tiny brother

Sigh deeply and say,

“I miss Daniel ’cause I love him.”

 

A boy too big to kiss his mom in public

But young enough to sneak

Stuffed animals into bed.

 

My gentle, temperamental son,

I miss you too

And love you.

 

Camp helps me to grow up too.

 

(c) Lydia A. Schultz

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