Myers Quad. Georgia Dawgs know it well. That wide open space framed by dorms near the heart of campus. Close to the sacred Sanford Stadium and the 24 hour offerings of Snelling Dining Hall. Popular path for Frisbee pick up games, football fans, and Friday afternoon eno naps.
Well, this is just a warning to all that traffic. Be careful not to stumble on the hemorrhaging mass of tissue lying there.
Because today, I left my heart in Myers Quad.
Today was the day.
He moved out from my upstairs to UGA's arms. And it might as well be Mars.
1.Don't tell me that he's "just down the road".
2.Don't tell me that he'll be home for Thanksgiving.
3.Don't tell me that I should be thankful for this great opportunity.
3.And I am.
But it's not easy to function without one's heart. No matter where it is and how soon it'll return and how wonderful the adventure it is on. The pain isn't relieved by "how close" he is because it's a result of where he is not.
This ain't my first rodeo, remember. While I cannot explain the medical phenomenon of multiple hearts and the ability to continue existing without one, I can assure you that I am living proof of this cryptic condition. The bloodstains remain on Myers Quad from this same injurious event some years ago and the same can be found at The Gate of Opportunity on Berry College's campus.
I know the platitudes. It's gonna be ok. He'll have a blast and make his mark and I'll be so proud. And baby girl at home will enjoy the chance to be an only child and we'll have fun and figure out our new normal.
But I'm hemorrhaging just the same.
The pains of childbirth were nothing compared to the anguishes that follow. From the heel prick in the hospital to the omission from a guest list to the rejection from a love. From the stitches at the ER to the punctures from verbal assaults to the denial of a dream.
To the separation required for successful establishment of adulthood.
Growing up is hard.
Mostly on the parents.
I would not choose to keep them little forever. Really, I wouldn't. I love these four so much that I want them to fully unfold the plans God has for them. I want them to pursue their life calling and fulfill His purposes for their lives. And I know full well that the journey includes separating from me. I just want to continue to be part of their lives with the same intensity and intimacy as I am accustomed to. It feels like I'd be OK with this separation stuff if I could be afforded a peephole to see what all goes on in their lives. Not to correct nor control...just to connect. Just a spectator's view.
But that is not to be, I know. I'll have to settle for -- and be very grateful for! - a text or a call and an occasional visit. Which reminds me that the only way I'll ever see him now is with a suitcase in his hand.
So just give me a moment to grieve. To cauterize the place where my heart used to beat, pumping life and joy and purpose through my veins. To apply some topical ibuprofen to the inflammation caused by the extraction. To infuse some encouragement into my system, hopes of the good still to come.
Because the pain isn't a result of where they are...it's caused by where they are not.
I know which prescriptions have treated this malady successfully in the past. I know what will stop the bleeding even if it does increase tear flow temporarily.
So I'll go to the medicine cabinet of my memories and take as many as needed as often as required. PRN at its best.
Of keeping his gender a secret from his Daddy, just so I could "own" him singularly just for a few months. The thrill of the surprise that we get to one day host a rehearsal dinner and not only weddings. Learning a new way to change diapers.
The unbridled joy of watching his Daddy teach him the intricacies of football strategy, nestled together in the recliner. The fun of backyard games of "sideline" and shaving cream fights and sandbox construction scenes. The smell of a little boy coming in from outside - even if it was just for a minute!
The satisfaction of believing (even if just for a moment) that I could make all things right in his world with oatmeal cookies and a game of HORSE in the driveway. The millions of times the back door slammed and a voice called "Guess what Mom!" The birthday breakfasts of scones and crispy bacon, the cheesy celebration banner always hung in the kitchen and the Red Plate.
The symphonies of piano and guitar and vocals when all four were home. The inside jokes that are best not shared outside of blood ties. The dance parties, especially all 7 grandkids demonstrating "Soldier Boy" for my Mom!
The lip sync video with his sisters. The graduation trip with his dad. The times the dog got loose and we chased him til our feet bled.
The late night consultations over a bowl of homemade granola or chips & salsa. The coveted first taste of Chambers' Christmas Jam each November. That time I was so scared about being a boy's mommy and messing everything up and he stretched his arms around me and declared he would always love me best. Yeah, that time. Especially that time.
The games of chess and Risk and poker. (Gotta watch those PK's and deacons' kids - don't know where they learned to play!) The accolades from the parents of kids he taught to swim, from teachers who experienced his depth, and from those the world seldom takes note of but he considers valuable.
Moments when I was granted the honor of his transparency, when I got to witness his humanity, and I marveled at the integrity of his character all the more.
Intentionally I open the floodgates and let the memories wash over this hole called absence. Like Bactine on an elbow scrape, the initial sting takes my breath away. Then it eases. The abyss is filling. Gratitude for the privilege of what I've been granted grows. Confidence from the previous rodeos assures me of the joys I can anticipate. I convince myself that the changes in the chore chart and the reduction in Gatorade purchases and the increase in parking spots in my driveway are bearable.
I am happy for where they are...but I still grieve where they are not. Here with me.
I know the days of just the six of us hunting down the perfect Frasier fur or crammed into one booth at Waffle House or throwing "the ring" at the beach are past. I know that my position in their lives has shifted and that I have less and less impact on the ebb & flow of their days. I know that I'll never fix the sisters' ponytails or tie his tie or cheer for a clutch free throw again. I know that where they are is good...even though where they are not brings tears. But I know I'll be OK.
I know that whenever I miss my heart, I can find it in the memories. And whenever I chide myself for longing for "12 feet under" my dining room table, I am reminded that Jesus feels the same way about us. In spite of being God and being omnipresent and omniscient and all the Omni's, His heart wants us with Him. So in John 17, He asks the Father to bring us all home So we can all be with Him. Together. Forever.
I can rest in that.
(Of course, Jesus does have the decided advantage of completely knowing every detail of His kids' lives! Just sayin.)
Yeah, if you go on campus near the Myers parking deck, you'll likely still see stains from my hemorrhaging heart. But it's all right. As long as that boy of mine is fine, I will be, too.
And he is.
So I am.
And just in care you're wondering if this kid-leaving-home thing gets easier, well, it doesn't.
At all. I hate to be the one to break the news to you if this happens to be your first rodeo...but I actually think it gets harder.
I'm liable to need hospitalization when the baby leaves.
'Cause that will leave the hole so very not full.
It occurs to me as I read over this tear stained post that so many of my memories are linked to food. How fitting. Jesus plans to celebrate our wedding to Him with a gigantic feast.
I'm gonna go eat some serious chocolate.
And of course I'll add a Tab for balance.