She leaves in a moment, exiting toward an exciting new world; a world I cannot enter. Rejection overwhelms me and I feel abandoned and alone. These thoughts jolt my senses and I am perplexed by the intensity of my feelings. After eigthteen years of nuturing this child, loving her and attending her needs, the world has come to claim her. I should be prepared for this—but I am not.
The car pulls up, full of laughing young people, the people who will possibly take my place in her life, Her luggage stands readied by the door. College holds open the doors to her future. The doors close on me. Will she miss me as I do her, or toss me aside as a relic of her past? Will someone be there to to see that she eats right, and hold her gently as she cries over some small tragedy in her life?
This daughter of mine is yesterday’s child, woman of the future. She is my loss and yet my gain. Loneliness gives way to pride. This is what I primed her for, the dreams we both shared. Why then, do I feel that our ties are severed? We have done so many things together, yet as she goes off to meet her greatest challenge, I am left behind.
A few more goodbyes and she’ll be out the door, crossing the threshold to a different lifestyle, in which I play only a spectator part. My heart bursts with a myriad of emotions. Pride dominates them and sadness yields to acceptance. She will not go off alone. She’ll carry a part of me with her, a motivation for her future, rather than a fixation of her past.
Halfway out the door, she kisses me one last time, arms around my neck, tighter than usual. Tears fill her eyes, but do not fall. Her luggage is loaded into the car and we exchange a look only we understand. The look is long and says it all. Our ties are not severed, but extended to a new awareness.
The car pulls away slowly, encumbered by the weight of so many teenagers and their endless luggage. We wave to each other until she is out of sight. I turn and walk into the house with leaden feet and heavy heart. I want her to go; I need her to stay.
As I wander aimlessly through our home, the echoes of her absence reverberate off the walls. My child has left the nest and I am appalled at the gaping hole her departure has left in my soul.
Her room is as she left it. Posters hang in disarray on the walls. Rollerskating pompoms droop listlessly over her bed, worn from usage and dusty from recent abandonment. Her prom picture sits on her her dresser, smiling back at me. Her graduation tassle is thrown carelessly off to a corner—a symbol of her past, discarded as she greets her tomorrow. The room spills over with memories, mementoes of a full and happy life. How glad I am that she refused to pack everything away, leaving a barren, empty room. She left her childhood with me to cherish and care for in her absence. I feel comforted.
I cry a little, already missing the pleasures she has brought me. My part in her upbringing is finished. The responsibility for who she is now lies with her. I salute her silently; my child, a young woman striding forward with confidence, only slightly masked by fear.
She has marched out of my life with the bravado of the young, possibly returning with the knowledge and maturity of an adult—causing our relationship to continue on a new and exciting level.
In the far recesses of my mind I recall when I first left home, caught up in the thrill of being on my own; unaware of how my mother felt. It seems our lives are re-enactments of the same play; only the performances change.
Watching my child leave home has jarred me into the realization that I am a woman who has done my job well. Now the future, unknown to me, pricks at my mind like a persistent canker. Knowing I have raised a daughter of merit instills the assurance that I must do no less for myself. Seeds of dissention take root in my soul. I realize with lightning awareness that this that this first fledgling who has left the nest on uncertain wings, inspires me to re-evaluate my life.
What now, of my own life? Surely it is not over, clouded though it be with a panoply of emotion. Until today my being centered on raising a daughter, but tomorrow comes with nimble swiftness: she is gone. What will occupy my days? My husband, lover and friend, will not be able to fill the void. These truths must be dealt with before I am robbed of the luxury of choice.
The telephone rings, bringing me back to reality. I remember again and the pain returns, relentless in its throbbing agony.
I have no daughter.
She was taken from me as swiftly as the tide reclaims its own. A mindless drunk driver on a country road brought an end to her future—and to her dreams. My thoughts are spidery, reaching out for lost memories and storing them in the chasm of my soul. Perhaps I won’t go into her room anymore-today.
It’s her father on the phone, asking how I am. I tell him that everything is fine.