Love and Let Leave

This month I will be escorting my daughter to college. We will fly to California, I will help her set up her room, attend the parents’ orientation event, and then I will leave her there, returning home to go on with my life. 

I will never forget how keenly I felt, at the moment of her birth over 18 years ago, the force of the life process that was already orchestrating her eventual departure from me. Something about the phenomenon of her emerging from my body made it patently obvious that from that moment on, she was headed outward. As the universe is still expanding — all the heavenly bodies gradually moving away from one another — so, I knew, were we. Each milestone, accomplishment, and adventure took her further and further, until now, when she will break out of my orbit and begin to create her own system, circling her own stars.

It is my job to love her absolutely, and to let her go gladly. Whether she is my gift to the world, or the world is my gift to her, it revolves around being able to let her go without restraint.

Every relationship is in constant flux, and, in the deepest sense, temporary. Whether it is a marriage that is ending, a friendship that has run its course, or a beloved pet who has died, we do best to open our hands and send them off with love and good wishes. Relationships have a life span, and naturally or prematurely, they all end. I adore my husband, and know that we would be terrifically lucky to reach old age together. I adore my little dog, and know that if I am lucky, he will predecease me by decades. While this may make me want to clutch and cling, I know I am best served by loving them as fully and freely as I would if I had a guarantee against loss. 

Loss, of course, is the great, unavoidable lesson. To greet it willingly and without bitterness is the constant challenge, hoping to find that on the other side of every loss is a different gain — perhaps obscured by pain, but there to be discovered when we are ready.