by Jan Singer
A few weeks before our son started his senior year in high school we received a letter from his advisor asking us, his parents to write him a letter. It was meant to be a thought piece, a note of encouragement to our son who was at the threshold of the first great educational milestone.
His class was heading off to a retreat for a few days ahead of the final stretch of their high school careers and it was time to dig a little deeper to think about who they were and what they wanted for their futures. And we were meant to be a part of it–at least our letters were.
And so I thought what a great idea! A letter to my son as he begins his long farewell from high school. But then it hit me–I actually had to write it. Yikes! If you’ve ever sat down to compose a heartfelt letter to your child you know what I’m talking about!
Of course my husband dashed his note off in a heartbeat. I was so annoyed! How could he possibly be finished so quickly? Didn’t he know that it should take hours of staring at the computer and writing absolutely nothing. Tears shed, swear words said. And still nothing. Why was this so hard?
He told me to relax. Not to overthink it. Just have fun with it. Easy for him to say! Finally on the night before the letter was due I stayed up late and forced my addled over-thinking brain to kvell about the last 17 years with my funny, happy, loving, strong, thinking, athletic, witty, frustrating, smart, smart-alecky boy-man.
It was the opening farewell in the long year leading up to our empty nest–Version 1. It had begun and our life as we knew it was shifting in a way that we couldn’t change and really didn’t want to change. But still, change is hard.
Our son is now a college graduate living on his own a few towns away. That summer before he headed off to school we had butted heads so often that my husband and I couldn’t wait for him to be out of the house. We dropped him off. Didn’t shed a tear and even did a little happy dance when we were out of site from campus!
Sometimes change happens gradually. Like over a lifetime of seventeen years. Or it can happen in a heartbeat–driving away from your college freshman. For better or worse meeting it head-on, in all its different forms and timings, is the only way through it.