Tuesday, September 24, 2013


This morning, driving home from spin class, I heard “Beauty and the Beast” on the radio and I didn’t cry.

Here’s why this is noteworthy to me:

When my son was in the fourth grade, he played the Beast in a school production.  He got the part mainly because he was tall and also because the director loved him.  He did not get the part because of his voice.  (The director told me, “He sings in the key of H.”)  Still, when it came time to sing the big song, he pulled it off.  And for years, every time I heard that song on the radio, I burst into tears.  Not because it’s THAT kind of song—even though it is—but because it reminded me of the boy he was:

Here we are at about that time: me rockin' the Howard Stern look, him being his wonderful self.
Last night I talked to my son on the phone.  He is crazy-busy with a new job and with helping his girlfriend start her business.  We talked about his nana, who has dementia and didn’t recognize him at dinner a few nights ago.  And about his grandpa, who is dying with supreme dignity in New York.  He has become a person whose advice I seek, a man I look up to.  I carry the little boy he was in my heart, but it’s not who takes my call once every two weeks.  And somehow, after many years, this has become okay with me.

Next week, my daughter and her boyfriend are going to Ireland, and I’m almost completely okay with it.

They are going to be hiking through tiny towns without phone access.  It will be raining.  They won’t have much access to the Internet.  I’m fine, except at three o’clock in the morning, when I’m not fine about anything.

When my kids were young, I couldn’t imagine that they would ever be able to cross the street by themselves, or drive a car, or drink alcohol, or talk to strangers.  And now, they live independent lives and I go to sleep every night not knowing where they are or what they’re doing.  And somehow, we’re all getting by.

I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal to a lot of people.  But maybe a few parents will appreciate knowing what I wish I’d known ten years ago: that one day, the hurt of their leaving will fade; that you will always miss them, but not as desperately as before; that gradually, your life will take on new contours, shift to a different shape, and you will be able to rejoice in it.

You won’t forget the way it used to be.  But remembering won’t make you cry as much.

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