When my younger son went to Kindergarten, he still looked like a baby. But he sure didn’t act like one. He was at the top of the maturity scale for 5-year-olds. He read The Hobbit in first grade and became a behavioral pawn for the teachers, drawing out the shy kids and calming down the wild ones. I recognized his many gifts and knew he had a lot to offer the world. Even back then, I realized I’d better enjoy the time I had with him because the letting go was going to be relative to the pride I felt in his accomplishments. So when he jumped out of the car on that first day of school, I had a premonition of all that was to come. And I cried. Not because he didn’t turn around to wave, but because I knew he was only mine for a little while.
My older son moved out right after graduating from high school, and the same feelings of separation tore at me. Life would change, he would struggle to find his way, and I couldn’t be home base any more. It was even more painful than his first day of Kindergarten. It still is. As my children venture into a world that is far from fair, they struggle while I can only watch. Suddenly my rose-colored glasses provide no visibility at all. Now I eat antacids and pray very hard because I am no longer holding their hands. I am no longer in control. Worst of all, I can’t make things all better.
As I get older, these occasions of letting go are growing more frequent and more painful. I’ve relocated a few times and felt the separation from familiar faces and friends. I’ve seen the world change drastically from the culture I knew growing up in Queens. And hardest of all, there are the final farewells. To grandparents and their whole generation. To parents and their whole generation. If I live to my life expectancy, I will be letting go of my own peers. Maybe my sister, my best friend. Maybe my husband. Do I dwell on this? No. Do I have to accept it? Yes.
Letting go is vital to wisdom and peace of mind. Very often, letting go is vital to another person’s well-being. And like any other challenge in life, acceptance is the first step. But people deal with the emotional fallout in different ways. For me, faith gives meaning to everything, so no matter how close to the edge I get, I feel like I have a lifeline. That doesn’t mean letting go is easy for me. But I’m learning.
Do you have any insight to share on letting go?