Twenty years ago, when my youngest was four and I was thirty-something, he told me he was going to live with me forever; that way, he’d be able to drive me to the grocery store when I got old.
Of course, I always knew the time would come when he’d have new and better dreams than living with his mother. I figured it’d happen right after college graduation — as it so often does — though, lucky for me, the big bad wolf recession ended up granting me a two-year reprieve.
Not that the extra two years together has always been a cake walk. No, truth be told, at times, we’ve driven one another crazy rather than to the grocery store. He’s called me snarky. And I’ve called him a slob. And he tells me he’s not as much a slob as some of his friends. That, in fact, compared to his friends, he’s quite neat. And, then I say — with a long gaze across his bedroom, how hard THAT is to imagine — and how, he needs to compare his housekeeping standards to those he shares life with rather than with the bigger slobs he doesn’t.
And then he says something else. And I say something else. Then he. Then me. Then he. Until finally, I stop talking and walk away. Not in a snarky huff, mind you. No, being the adult, or at least the older adult, I walk away THINKING a reply, that I keep to myself. Or sometimes share with my husband. Because, both being writers, Kyle and I each want the last word. And this way, we both get it. He verbally. Me mentally. And we’re both happy. Sort of. Mostly.
Except now I’m sad. Mostly. Because Kyle’s moving out this weekend. And the parting is truly ‘such sweet sorrow,’ and not just on my end, I think.
And all week-long, when it seemed as if we had a zillion things to do, my husband and I have instead been moving furniture to Kyle’s new home, twenty minutes down the road.
And all week-long, I’ve thought of how good this move will be for Kyle. And said the same to Kyle.
And all week-long, I’ve thought about how much I’m going to miss Kyle living with us. And said the same to Kyle.
And all week-long, I’ve thought off Kyle’s silly sweet dream of living with me forever and driving me to the grocery store when I get old.
Funny how it was Kyle, not me, who brought that old dream up. It happened last night, I think. About the time he mentioned that he’d miss living here with his father and me.
To which all I could do was nod. Because there was nothing else to say. Then.
And now. Maybe just this: Kyle has always been sweet and always had a way with words, too, so that they’d stick, if not to memory, then at least to my heart.
Last night was no exception.
First, what made me laugh right out loud – that comment about you and Kyle both wanting the last word because you’re writers. Shoot – I know lots of people who always want the last word, and it’s not because they’re writers. As a matter of fact, sometimes I want the last word, and it doesn’t have one thing to do with my aspirations on the writing front. It’s a little more primal than that. Sometimes, unfortunately. 😉
But how wonderful, really, that you’ve had those extra years together – and that you wanted them, despite the complexities. Just from reading your words, the experience feels much the same as any significant move with a child – sending them off to kindergarten, to college, to marriage, to the military.
For that matter, it feels like any significant move, period. As much as I’ve moved, it’s always the same – a weird combination of knowing nothing ever will be the same, and not knowing at all what it will be.
The good news is, I’ll bet he’ll be able to find his way back if you need to go to the store.
We’re off to San Antonio. Leaving in a few minutes. I DO love a good road trip.
Maybe you’re right about that need of speaking last words — that it has more to do with pride or something else then the power of might with pen or tongue. But in any case, I’m glad we’ll not be here when he moves his personal things — clothes, books, music, writing instruments… his truck. Himself.
Just a thing I have — that may be shared with more folks than I know. But it’s easier to leave myself than be left behind.
Decided to re-title the post. It seems to fit. Unless Kyle hears of it, he’s not likely to comment. So here, at least, I may get the last word. 🙂
This is heart-warming and sweet. Thanks for sharing, Janell. I can fully empathize. My son is not much younger than your Kyle, and left home for college more than four years ago. He comes home every summer. So, 8 mons away, 4 mons home. But every time he leaves at the end of summer, I feel the going away pangs all over again. You’re fortunate that it’s only a 20 mins. drive, for us it’s a 4 hr. flight. It’s funny how true the saying is: “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Yes, arguments when we’re together, but very civil and endearing when apart. Have a good trip to San Antonio. 🙂
It’s silly, I suppose, to be weepy when Kyle will only be twenty minutes away. But the parting has less to do with geography than with the ‘thinning’ of connections. We’ll have less ties between us now. Fewer shared suppers. Fewer conversations about work. Fewer opportunities to hear about the status and direction of his current writing project. Fewer this. Fewer that. And it doesn’t help to tell myself how this separation is a good thing, because I know it is. Our culture tells me so even when my heart beats to a different drum of a story.
Then there’s this difficult-to-explain feeling, where I wonder, whether maybe, if we weren’t just 20 minutes away, we might actually work harder at creating opportunities for visits — since the efficacy of “absence making the heart grow fonder” seems improved with each extra mile of distance. Sometimes my biggest fear is becoming like a local tourist attraction where locals never go. They don’t visit, because they can visit anytime. The supply appears infinite. So demand falters. And, maybe, this more than any earthly reason I can think of, explains the necessity of death. The ultimate parting is there to remind us all otherwise.
The pangs of parting with loved ones is, indeed, a universal experience.
Carol A said:
Have a wonderful trip to San Antonio. It should be a beautiful time of the year. I’ll be leaving for Lake Jackson on Friday for 3 days. Wendy Smades invited me back for her Commissioning Service as Lay Director of the next Women’s Walk. She wanted our whole reunion group to be there on Saturday. I am excited to see everyone. I pray it all goes well with Kyle’s new home (away from home). I know how hard it is to part with our children and my heart goes out to you. Who knows what God has in store for you, Don & Kyle in the future. I’m sure lots of good surprises! What an awesome God we worship!
We are having a wonderful time. Hope you do, too. Tell Wendy ‘hi.’ It would be lovely to experience Emmaus again, especially during the Easter season. Attending that Commissioning Service may bring back memories of your own — how many years ago was that now?
Thanks for your kind words about Kyle. I know all will be well. Sometimes, what’s good for us just doesn’t live up to its name!