Weepy Aug20

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The summer before our son left for his freshman year, I felt a little weepy. It wasn’t because I didn’t want him to leave because, of course, I did. He was ready. It wasn’t because we were facing the empty nest – we weren’t; we still had our younger son about to start high school.

So why would I burst into tears at the most bizarre times? Why would my husband and I look at each other when he was telling us about something he had just read, and simultaneously well up?

Premature nostalgia.

That’s what I’ve decided to name it. He wasn’t even gone yet and we were feeling wistful for the good old days. And having flashbacks of the little boy who was still somewhere inside that big, hairy body.

We decided not to fight it. The premature nostalgia was sort of comforting. The angst of college apps was long gone and the wide, open future of possibility beckoned. Life was good and that summer was sweet and precious.

I shopped a lot that summer. I researched what he needed and got great deals. It made me feel useful. Like the feverish nesting instinct I had when I was pregnant with him.

My husband and I decided to write a letter to him, together. We’d take turns at the computer, weeping and writing. But it was cathartic; we could put down all the things we wanted him to know. About how happy we were to be his parents and how proud we were of him. About the things we thought he might want to look at in himself and the things to hold on to. How to stay open and embrace all that is to come, to take advantage of the opportunity he had earned. And, of course, a reminder to be kind and generous and patient with people. Yeah, all that sappy stuff just poured out on the page and after some editing, was finally printed… stuffed in an envelope, tossed in my purse, and airlifted to Boston.

By the time we dropped him at college, I was glad to finally be on to the next stage. Enough of this in-between, teary stuff. Yeah, right…

Move-in Day was sweltering and beautiful. Tufts did it up right and the matriculation ceremony had us crying again. But we weren’t alone. There were about a thousand parents sitting with us, all glassy-eyed. Around 3 pm, we had dried up completely and it was time for us to go.

We said our goodbyes on the green above the parking garage, exchanged extra long hugs, and gave our son the letter but told him to read it when he had a minute alone. He turned and walked away. We returned to the car, got in, closed the doors, and both burst into tears. Again. And then we burst out laughing, elation and sadness and relief and a zillion other emotions colliding. When my husband’s eyes were dry enough to see the road, we drove to the beach to watch the sun set.  Silently, we held each other tight. Another indelible milestone.

One of the best days, ever.


Want to know more?

College Move-In: Planning for the Big Day

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