Leaving


The day of parting with my son grew closer.  He called me one afternoon and told me that he was experiencing some anxiety and that I might help.  I went right over to the house and entered his room. The open suitcases were filled to the brim with clothes, shoes, books.  We spoke and I asked him what he was nervous about.  He couldn’t really tell me.  All he could mutter, quietly was,” I am leaving….”

As I sat on his bed I felt a blanket beneath me, familiar to my touch. Yes, of course it was familiar – it was his childhood blanket. That light blue velvet covering, soft and frayed, received in his first week of life . The same one I would wrap him in as I cradled him to sleep.  The blanket that I had thought lost or discarded years ago.  Then I looked around the room and saw things I had not noticed in years –  the wan, discolored rocking chair, the white teddy bear, the blue and white whale.  All the little mementos of  childhood and adolescence gathered on the upper shelves – a silent jamboree of memories staring down, distraught, at my son’s bulging suitcases.

Leaving, he was leaving. Silly, sentimental father, so caught up in his own memories that he was useless to his son.  Someone had warned me years ago about this parents’  rite of passage, the moment that comes when by necessity we must let go.   I had scoffed at the time, thinking it would never apply to me. But as I sat on that bed, I suddenly saw my own mother and father standing at Melbourne Airport 33 years ago with tears in their eyes as I boarded a plane for London. Brash, flippant, eager for adventure, I was too focused on my own future to truly appreciate their heartbreak.   Somehow they must have known, what I may have already known: I wasn’t coming back – at least not soon.  And I remembered, that as I turned away from them and headed down the ramp, the words of a song I had nearly forgotten, floated through my mind, stinging me then and now with pangs of melancholy and remorse:

  “Leaving home ain’t easy………no, it ain’t ever easy…….on the ones you’re leaving home.”

Now, I too, have crossed the Rubicon.

And it ain’t easy.

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