Monday, August 31, 2009

And I Cried...

I few days ago, I received an amazing e-mail from a friend. She let me into her world with a beautiful letter she wrote to her son before she dropped him off at college. It made me cry. I read this sipping my green tea in one hand keeping my other hand free to wash away the tears blurring my eyes. She generously and lovingly sent it to me letting me know that she understood my sentiments. She is always a step ahead of me. She is willing to share this with all of you who might be reading this Blog.

Dear Son

Today I realized you were leaving for college.
But, wait, it was just yesterday I was dropping you off at Kindergarten.

Those days where physically exhausting. The hardest thing was tying everyone’s shoes only to turn around and find your little brother had kicked his off. Aaaaa.

Then I realized that physical exhaustion was a luxury compared to emotional exhaustion. There was factorial dynamics, emergency hospital visits, vacillating hormones of all ages. Teasing, screaming, nerves, frights….

But back to the point, I have faced this moment 5 times;
1) When you were 2 at Club Med and “they” took you away to your kids club. I watched from behind a palm tree as an iguana barked at me
2) When you went to Montessori pre school and “they” tore you from my arms and clapped on my car window to move on out of the carline.
3) When you went to Kindergarten, holding tight to my hand and then launching bravely forward with your best friend. The lump in my throat couldn’t hold down the tears. “They” slammed the door and shooed us parents away. So we cupped our hands on the window and peeked in like a Norman Rockwell painting.
4) When you went to private High School separately from all of your middle school friends so torn and strong. I wanted more than anything to take you into my arms and keep you home so “they” would not hurt you. You were too young to feel pain like this.
5) And now. At USC summer orientation. Today I was coincidentally jogging several feet behind you (I was late for lunch) when you were walking off for registration. Your shadow touched me and then pulled away. I stopped cold. “They” are so many here in LA. The big city. The unknown. The unfair….

I didn’t cry at your graduation. I didn’t know why.
But today as I hold a damp, salty tissue filled with so many emotions,
I do know why.
I have been on autopilot.
There were logistics, SATs and college appts. paperwork and health checkups.
There was the sacrifice of allowing you to be with friends and others your “last summer”.
There were knee ops and wisdom teeth.
There was baseball, proms, graduation.
And endless “things to do” ---and I knew you weren’t reading those todo list emails.

I’ve been clanking up the old wooden rollercoaster in Santa Cruz that was your first rollercoaster ride.
Now I’m at the top.
There are no more safety nets.
I’m about to drop and my stomach hangs in anticipation.
Now I’m on “Top Gun” at Great Adventure with its spins, speed and 0 gravity effects.
Now I’m crying.

I have this anxiety of unfinished business.
What did I forget to tell you.
What lessons did I not pass on.
Did I tell you how you’ve surpassed every expectation I’ve ever had of you.
Did I tell you I loved you enough times. Did I tell you I loved you enough times. Did I tell you I loved you enough times…..

Why am I thinking about buying mango juice, going to Harmony Chinese restaurant or making oatmeal pancakes and then realizing these are the things I used to do for you. And realizing I won’t need to do them for a while.

Why do I tell complete strangers my son is going away to college?
Some of these people don’t even speak English like the gardener.

But now I have to believe that I spent the last 18 years teeing you up for this moment.
Now I have to realize you are a man.
And I have to believe in you.
I truly trust you will be successful.

Our choices together have brought you to this great place and time.
Now its your turn to make choices.
You’ll be making big decisions
In a big city
And I’m going to worry about you so much.

I and everyone at home will be going through a transition with you.
Lets give each other the license to be distant, emotional, supportive and communicative.

There’s a sadness that you are leaving.
But I’m so blessed we’ve reached this point together.
And I that I am around to see it.

I have, now, new hopes for you.
And I will still be scared, brave, proud and involved (whether you like it or not.)

Of course call and tell me about the highs and the lows.
But Please, also, just call—or hey, videotext-- to say you’re OK.
When you call I promise to try and listen and ask and help you think.
I hope you’ll always see me as a resource and a partner.

The house will feel like
…AT&T Park after the All Stars game is over and the bleachers are empty
0The TOC championship little league field after we went home with the trophy
…Wimbledon after the Federer match when the stadium echoes
...the Kentucky Derby after the hoofbeats have stopped
…The Zelda game when you complete the Triangle
...Phantom of the Opera after the chandelier is pulled back to its place on the ceiling and the doors are locked
...The World's Fair after closing day when the popcorn bags are blowing across the dirt like ghosts
…The Harry Potter movie when the lights come on
…Sun Valley when the sun melts the snow in the Spring

Your room will be very very empty
The silence will be very very loud
(But, hey, the trash will be less)

None of us, want to say goodbye—so remember,
invite us to Disneyland!!

I love you so much,

PS: People said it would be easier when the kids go off to college. But I liked it the way it was.
PPS: You should know that I got an F second semester English because I dropped it after the cutoff date. Think about that we’re all human during the tough times.


  1. What a beautiful letter. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I just dropped my son off for his first day of first grade today and I was crying. I was so worried that he might miss me and not be happy. I was upset this morning that I forgot to pack his lunch. But it gave me a great excuse to see him again. When I went to his classroom to drop the lunch I saw him in circle time and he saw me. He gave me the biggest smile and blew me a kiss. I will treasure that kiss forever. I know now that he will be do fine at school. Thanks for sharing your letter. I can't imagine how hard it must be to drop your son off at college!