Kids & Parenting
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By: Mary Elder-Criss
The early morning silence was what awakened me. With a sense of alarm, I explore the house. As I near your bedroom, I identify the source with a sinking stomach. No snores or unintelligible words muttered in your sleep emanate from behind your closed door. No cell phone ringing, no drawers being rustled through, no bedsprings squeaking as you shift positions. No Bootsy Collins playing too loudly from your stereo. None of the usual clamor that signifies your presence is heard at all. It is the sound of letting go. It is the loudest quiet I have ever felt.
As I push open the door to your bedroom, the emptiness assaults me. The sight of my child's room, which is not my child's any longer, is an open tomb. Scattered belongings; a discarded T-shirt, a pair of socks, and a couple of books due back at the library litter the floor, leftovers from where you hurriedly packed before starting out on your four hour drive to Ohio. A reluctant laugh bubbles up inside of me through the tears. No matter how hard I tried to instill cleanliness in you, you were a lousy housekeeper. It is the first time I have seen your floor in years. I had forgotten what color the carpet was.
No longer will I sit here at my computer early in the morning pecking away and be disturbed by you. The morning ritual that involved you stumbling out of your bedroom, hair all awry, and pausing long enough by the study to mutter, "Morning, mom," is now a thing of the past. To think I would miss the sight of you unshaven, bleary-eyed and scratching, at the crack of dawn.
For the last eight months I have watched and listened as you and Rebecca planned your marriage and your future life together. Slowly, day by day, I lost a little more of you, but it was all right, because I knew every night, I'd still hear the crunch of your tires upon the gravel driveway. I'd still get to look upon your face before I told you "Goodnight." I'd still get to be "Mom."
I thought I was prepared. As the day for the wedding grew nearer, you spent more and more time with her. You were already gone, just using my house as a pit stop for food and sleep. Yet nothing prepared me for the silence. The absence of sound is deafening, yet my weeping soon shatters it.
I wander around your room, touching the remaining articles. A Beanie baby penguin sits sprawled, head nodding lazily to the side, on top of your fan. Yearbooks are stacked haphazardly on the floor, a pair of dirty socks lay forgotten under your bed, and a dismantled guitar you have been refinishing for months leans against one wall, neglected.
Bittersweet memories of you as a child flood my soul, and I impatiently wipe back the tears again. I whisper "I'm sorry," to the empty walls for the times in your life when I failed you as a parent. I hope you know how much I love you, how proud I am of you, and how blessed I consider myself to have you as my son. As the stubborn tears continue to fall, I speak a prayer of gratitude for the privilege of being your mom, and I ask the Lord to bless and keep you and Rebecca all the days of your life.
Turning out the light, I exit. Tomorrow I will begin the physical journey, which will bring me to Ohio for your wedding. I know I will cry then too, as I see you stand at the altar. I promise you that at least part of them will be tears of joy for you. But today…well today belongs to me, and I will weep alone here in the silence for myself.
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My husband took our daughter getting married harder than i did , all the way down the the isle he cryed and told her you don't have to do this. Letting go, the funny thing is, she was only going to be a few miles away in her new home but it wasn't ours and daddy's little girl was gone. You've captured all the emotions, very good!
Very nice, Mary, a tender recounting of letting go, but the sudden shock at the inevitable. Truly a rite of passage for a mother as well, and well documented, too. I'd change the two references in which you say "Nothing prepares you" and "your oldest son's room" so that the references are personal "Yet nothing prepared me for the silence" and "The sight of my oldest child's room" -- just to keep it all in the same perspective. Could you characterize the silence a bit more, describe what's missing before you descibe your tears, the snoring, crunching of car tires on the driveway, "morning mom"? I think that would give us more sympathy and cry with you when you do let go with the tears. Let us know what's inside before giving us the reaction... Just a thought. Otherwise, wonderfully done, well captured for us. Thank you for sharing. --David Ian
Ok Mary It's not nice to make someone cry first thing in the morning! I had flashbacks of letting my own children go. The good news is that for awhile it feels like you really lost them but there is always a place that only Mom can fill. Those times become such a blessing and the bond between Mother and Daughter in law is a real blessing as well(provided that you really let him leave and cleave)
I agree with Darlene - I didn't want to cry this early in the morning! Mary, this is beautiful. Mine aren't old enough to be at this stage, but I know my oldest was gone for 6 weeks, and I missed him dreadfully.
Wow, Mary. This is a wonderful piece - truly touches the emotions. I don't know if I'll ever be prepared either...we're all entitled to grieve any type of loss and your son now gone & married is definitely a loss (for you!) He probably will also experience "grieving" symptoms, although you know they can't come close to those of a mother who is saying goodbye to her baby! Perhaps you could submit this piece to a bridal magazine somewhere? I'm sure there are other mothers out there of brides & grooms who would completely relate and would be relieved to have someone to cry with, someone who shares the pain of exactly what you're going through...then, six months from now, when you suddenly find the "quietness" not so bad after all, perhaps you can come up with a humorous article on the same topic (you ARE great with the humor!) May God bless you and shower you with comfort and JOY as you emerge into this new phase of life! Lynda
Hi Mary. I loved this story from beginning to end. It was well written, touching, and showed a side of parenthood that all parents eventually experience, and can relate to. Very well done. Thank you and God bless you.
I don't have children, but what you have written makes me almost envious of those that do. There are few people in the world that we have so much opportunity to pour ourselves into like our children.