Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Did You Cry?

People have been asking me, "Did you cry when you left David at G.U.?"
The answer is "No," but it's not that simple.

I cried a lot during the Welcome Mass at St. Aloysius, the parish church at Gonzaga. I allowed myself to cry in mass, as I often do. There is something about the crucifix, with Jesus hanging on it, suffering, that strips me right down to the core of my being. Statues of his mother, Mary, also have that effect upon me. They make me think of his agony, and her agony, watching him. Tears come easily, then.

I observed a number of tearful mothers, and some kids who were looking emotional, too. It's normal, it's understandable, and I get it. But I didn't want to do that to David.

Having walked Katie's cancer journey and through to her death with her, I have schooled myself to control my emotions. I did not want Katie to pay for my grief. I did cry in front of her when she was dying - we wept together - but in general, my attitude was, The buck stops here; I'm the Mama. You can count on me. Whatever it is, I am trustworthy.

Living with a man who is half Norwegian and half German, I have learned to control my emotions when necessary. Living with a high school senior who is getting ready to leave home, I have been controlling my emotions for months now. By controlling, I simply mean containing them within, and allowing them out in ways that do not distress others, to the best of my ability. Obviously, this was not a success at all times.

David is not dying; David is starting college. David is doing what his father and I have been preparing him to do since he started preschool. David is blessed that his work, and the work of those who love him, has made this step possible. It's the natural order of things. David still has his room here at home, and David will be coming home for Christmas vacation. David is alive and well.

I faced his departure with a different perspective than many other mothers have.

So I wept during mass. I prayed in mass for forgiveness of my shortcomings as a mother, I prayed for David and his well-being, I prayed for his classmates, their parents and other community members, and for our family. I cried in regret for what has happened, and for what has not happened, to my children. I cried for all that I tried to do, and tried to give them, that went astray. I wept freely, and I intentionally left some of my teardrops on the wooden pew as I knelt in prayer. I thought, Let this wood absorb my tears; let them remain in the sanctuary of St. Aloysius as part of our history here. They will be safe in that sacred space. I am sure I am not the first, and won't be the last, parent to do so. I saw a lot of others weeping quietly in mass.

And when we left him on the corner of the street by his dormitory, I didn't shed a tear.


deb said...

perfectly wonderfully exactly .

Kay said...

So true. After all you've endured, leaving a perfectly fine and healthy kid in a dormitory is not the end of the world. I'm not saying it's nothing, but as you said, it's the natural order of things and he is prepared and will do great. The way it should be. Makes perfect sense!

But I know it's not easy either. Hugs, my friend! : )

Karen said...

You are such a beautiful mother. Really beautiful. This was very moving to read (as usual). I'm so glad you write.

Mary Potts said...

I understand this Karen. You are coming at David's privilege to attend college (through hard work on his part and yours) from a different perspective than I did. Our other children went to college before Erin even got sick. I cried like a baby when we left our oldest because I thought I would miss him so much. I did miss him, but at the time I had NO idea what "missing a child" meant!

I understand, and stand with you, on your stoicism in front of Katie. We moms absorb it all. Why? I don't know sometimes, but we do.
It certainly is amazing how one can learn to control one's emotions when necessary.

And I love the image of your tears left on the pew. Yes, I understand that too...

Allegra Smith said...

Only true love can give us that kind of perspective. I cannot imagine you having any shortcomings as a Mother. Or for that reason in any other way connected to love.

To contain it is not a denial. To contain is to nurture even pain until we can turn it into something positive. I do love your way of looking at the world and at our own follies. It takes love and compassion to do that. Hugs from here, on this rainy afternoon.

Busy Bee Suz said...

You sure know how to put things in perspective Karen.
I hope he has a great time, I hope you are well.

ps. This made ME cry. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful lovely post.
See you tomorrow!
lv, Carin

AutumnJoy said...

Those tears left on the pew (and shed with your lovely Katie) could well be defined as "holy water of the heart".

AnnDeO said...

I love your words. Thankyou.