I have been watching with empathy the posts on my facebook timeline lately. Some of my friends have eighth grade graduates this spring and the traditional class trip brought the kids to Washington, DC for nearly a week. I am seeing the comments from moms who are feeling the pangs of separation as their children are about to take their first major step toward adulthood – high school.
Separation is an interesting thing. We can be sad, we can be excited for the opportunities causing it, or we can mourn and long for the past. I remember fondly my high school years, I remember how hard it was for my parents to see me leave for college, and I remember watching my own children become adults and move away from home, our daughter to marry. I can say there have been many tears over these instances of separation. How time flies, and how I wish I could have slowed the clock to have savored just one occasion a little longer.
Two months ago I said goodbye to my mother for the last time. She was 88, was failing in health, was content knowing she was at her end and was glad for the life she lived. We have lived with her for 19 years, taking care of her after her stroke. Our kids grew up with Gram in the house, and my mom saw her share of separations. There was an old Yankee approach to her attitude, and there were times that I realized she was just prepared for life. I think Mom was frugal with everything, with money, with household management, with her travels in her later years, and with her approach in watching my two children go through their teen years and begin their adult lives. We had no ill feelings to resolve, she had no complications in her life, and by us living with her, she was able to stay in her home to take her last breath.
We talked one day about money, her life insurance policy, her will, and she looked at me and said, “OK, so am I good to go?” I laughed, assured her that yes, she was, indeed, good to go. But I thought wow, how simple once again her approach to life was. She was there for me as a child, she worked so I could go to college, she was my support as I started my own family, and it was my turn to take care of her at the end.
The day she died, I was obviously upset, but I was not distraught. I was almost immediately at peace knowing she lived the way she wanted, lived by the values she felt were important, and was now ready to join my father who had died nearly twenty years ago. This separation was inevitable, hurt when it happened, but is the end of one life, and I’m hoping she is beginning an existence we can spiritually hope for.
So as my friends begin to feel those pangs of separation for their youngsters, I hope that they are savoring a few precious events, carving extra minutes in their week to appreciate and freeze moments in time, and know that life will have new phases, life will change, and that we should try to be empowered by the past. We are ready, whether we know it or not, for whatever lies ahead. Have confidence, have faith, and… carry a few extra tissues.