Much like the bouts of poison ivy I dealt with this summer, I am also struggling with another affliction: a slightly broken heart because my oldest child just left for college.
By Gail Fitzner Kamer
Much like the bouts of poison ivy I dealt with this summer, I am also struggling with another affliction: a slightly broken heart because my oldest child just left for college. I say slightly because it’s not that I didn’t want him to go. I know this is the next step in his life, and in mine. It’s just hard.
When I first started thinking and writing about his leaving, I think he was 12 and off at camp. Just the notion of him leaving the nest sent me into a tizzy. I revisited the idea again when he was 15. Because life happens in the blink of an eye, I thought, “Gee, college is not that far off.” But I was able to brush the pesky anticipation aside. By the time he turned 17, I couldn’t escape the feeling that my day-to-day time with him was coming to an end. When we visited colleges his junior year, it was easy to imagine him feeling at home on the leafy paths, in the green spaces and crowded dorms. It was all good and very exciting, but my heart felt heavy.
When I walk my dog by the high school, I get a lump in my throat realizing not all three of my children are there this fall. It is extremely hard to walk by my son’s empty, albeit clean, bedroom; it’s also hard to imagine a gallon of milk lasting more than two days or not tripping over the smorgasbord of footwear as I enter the house. It’s almost unfathomable to think that his late-night bowl of cereal will not be there to greet me in the morning.
But the biggest change, one that will take getting used to, is the silence. Don’t get me wrong: my two other children are quite frankly much louder than my oldest. But he is the drummer of the house and a day didn’t pass that I didn’t hear and welcome the music emanating from the basement. If he wasn’t playing solo or jamming with his buds, music was blaring from his room. I will not be able to hear any song by The Red Hot Chili Peppers or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Israel Kamakawiwo’ole-style, without my heart breaking just a little bit more.
Before he left we were busy ordering textbooks, bedding, train tickets, and assorted other essentials. We tried to make Sunday night dinners a mandatory thing for the five of us.
The day finally came. My poison ivy didn’t flare up and I didn’t break down when it was time to leave him in his dorm. I made his bed and hugged him without saying anything for fear my voice would betray me. It was probably a good thing that I tripped on his shoes on my way out; it was just like home.
Our family will just have to be content with Face Time and Snap Chat until his first visit home. I’m counting the days.