My Dearest Son,
Woke this morning with an odd mix of emotions. This tummy churning combination of heartache and anxiety mixed with excitement, elation and sadness. The kind of feeling that isn’t quite strong enough to wake you up with that frightening panic and just removed enough to assure me that it wasn’t really even my own. This morning I woke to the beat of my mom heart and it was you baby, you and your heart that were stirring inside me, nudging me to rise with my hand placed across my heart in some effort to soothe the pounding, eyes filling with tears as my sleepy voice whispered, “Aw baby, this must be so hard” Even from 2100 miles away our love strong enough to rustle my resting soul, your steps nearly visible to me, your own churning so powerful that even without words they changed the pace of my heartbeat and flipped that switch deep inside me that demands I protect you, make everything hurt just a little less. The distance between us, those thousands of miles, feeling like scratchy rope bound around my wrists, holding me back and keeping me from doing what every fiber in my being is telling me I need to do…wrap my arms around you and assure you that everything is going to be alright and we are so very proud of the young man that you are.
I knew five years ago when we stepped on the gorgeous campus with its lush rolling lawns, massive brick structures and faces in varying shades, all smiling and greeting us, I knew. I could feel your young heart beating then too my son, beating in a way that let me know that while this was going to feel at times like my own heart might break, that place was where you wanted to be, where you would grow and change in ways that for the first would not involve your family, that this next chapter in your life would be there in Louisville, without me. It’s times like these I do wish I were an actual writer, that I were able to articulate what absolute parenthood feels like, the way your child’s happiness becomes a force larger than yourself, how the part of me that cares for only me, was hoping, begging that you wouldn’t even consider living so far away from home….from me, but this other part, a much bigger and more powerful part, was not only encouraging you to follow your dreams it was absolutely beaming with pride that I raised a child strong enough, courageous enough to move so far away from home, tackle life with both strong arms and do so on his own. Odd feeling, that being split in two like that and I can tell you, both sides feel big enough to be a person on their own, but in the end the battle between selfishness and selflessness, the inner argument of, “But I want” and “But he wants” the mother in me will win every time. When we got on the plane to return home from our visit to the campus of the University of Louisville I knew….knew it wouldn’t be the last time I would board a plane in that city, the two pieces of me battling inside me, my heart breaking a little and my pride making each step a little easier.
You and I have talked a little about what leaving Louisville feels like. I’ve marveled in your ability to share with me an experience that I’ve never known. Leaving your family, living on your own, working and going to school full time while making friends, creating a new family of sorts, spending holidays at a table with faces you haven’t watched change over the decades, how that feels, the ups and downs, you’ve been an articulate and colorful orator Jeremy. You’ve continued to share your life with me, include me in ways that only you know will touch and move me. For that I will be eternally grateful. You can’t possibly know, not yet anyway, what that scratchy rope feels like and each one of those stories and inclusions loosened them enough to keep me from screaming. And now, I promise you my handsome son, these ears are here and this very open heart is ready to feel the next chapter in the Story of Jeremy, my favorite story of all time.
I can’t know how hard it must be to leave a job where you loved and were given the opportunity to advance, despite your age, and were put in charge, drive past the school that won your heart on one visit and where you earned your diploma, have your last drink in the bar where you and your friends would take up tables for hours at a time, laughing, drinking, solving the world’s problems in boozy 3:00 AM discussions. Five years of your life being loaded into boxes, taped shut and packed in an overloaded 93 Camry, to turn in the keys to the home you shared with the people, the family, you are now, much like we were five years ago, having to hug and say goodbye to. I can’t know how that feels baby, but I can and will proudly listen as you tell me….
I woke this morning to your sadness but I feel some of my own as well. I too am both going to miss, and forever be indebted to Louisville. The way you we welcomed there. The amazingly sweet and intellectual friends you made there. The stunningly green lushness and thick damp air. Knowing you and the man you have become because of your time there. I’ve been a lot of very cool places but none of them will ever mean as much to me as your Louisville Jeremy. None. Having the person I love most in the world so far away has never been easy. Figuring out how to hold you as tight as I can without smothering or stunting you, that was hard too. Trying to figure out who I am, without your needing me, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done baby, but it was because of you, your strength, love and support, it was you that made me strong enough to do it. I admire you Jeremy, I truly do. I know how those people in Louisville feel watching you pull away from the curb, old car loaded with the boxes containing your life, the burgundy car with the missing hubcaps getting smaller and smaller as it is being driven away by one of the most amazing people they will ever meet. I’ve been there and part of my stirring heart this morning is for them as well. Goodbye Louisville…man, do I owe you one.
Who knows where this next chapter will take you my son. The new people you’ll meet, the new jobs, the new home and new bar for late night boozy chats. I wish I could make the saying goodbye easier for you but it’s not even those binding ropes that hold me back this time…it’s my confidence in you. You are a remarkably smart and strong young man, capable of handling this on your own and that right there, one of the greatest and most powerful feelings I’ve ever known. You are my gift Jeremy and I am grateful, every day, that I get to know and love you, be loved by you in return. Thank you my dear son, not sure there is ever going to be a way for me to rightfully repay you but, I can promise you that when you drive past The Arch in Saint Louis, speed through Amarillo Texas, sail past those gorgeous red rocks in Arizona, thinking of all the faces and people, the life you just left, that there is a woman sitting in your childhood home, tears in her eyes, heart near bursting ready to say, “Welcome home baby”.
Drive safe my sweet son
Home is here waiting
I love you so,