If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea:
Even there thy hand shall lead me, thy right hand shall hold me. ~ Psalm 139:9-10 (NKJV)
As my oldest moved through his sometimes tumultuous high school years, I'd jokingly threaten to hang a huge banner on the front of the house for his graduation party: Good-bye, good luck, good riddance!
Then graduation day came all too soon. Two days later he left home for the first time, taking a job on a drilling crew that left early Monday morning and didn't return until late Friday.
The house was too quiet. No one picked up the youngest and turned him upside-down and shook him until until he squalled. No one teased the dog so much that she scrambled crazily around the house, growling and yapping. No one devoured half the mashed potatoes almost as soon as the serving bowl hit the table. No one barged into the bedroom at night as I was falling alseep to say, "I love you, Mom. You mean a lot to me."
The time had come. The nest was beginning to empty. For all my bravado, I wasn't ready.
That was 17 years ago. Since then, I helped my daughter move halfway across the country two months after she graduated from high school to take a job in Kansas at the age of 18. After she dropped me off at a motel the night before my flight for home left, I knelt down beside the bed and prayed and cried. She now teaches high school math in South Carolina, 700 miles away. We see her and her family once a year.
Our youngest, who received his college degree a year ago, isn't too far away, but he's talking about eventually moving to North Carolina. As I watch him drive out the lane, heading back to Johnstown after a visit home, a familiar emptiness settles in the pit of my stomach--that same emptiness I felt when we'd tear down our campsite after a camping trip, when we watch our daughter and her family drive away after a too short visit home.
A parent's job is to train up children in the way they should go--then let go. From Number One to Number Three, the letting go didn't get any easier. It isn't any easier now, when the youngest has been gone for 6 years and the oldest lives next door with his wife and three children.
But I find comfort in an old song I began humming after the first one left home: "Vaya Con Dios" -- Go with God.
Letting go is never easy, but knowing God is with them wherever they go, whatever they do, soothes this lonely mother's heart. My children are God's children, too.
Thank you, God, for reminding me that You love my children even more than I do. Amen.