Saturday, July 31, 2010

Letting Go

The other day I did something very routine for me. I drove my daughter to her best friend's house. I drove her to the house I've driven to for years. I dropped my daughter off and hugged her friend, who we consider part of our family.

Then I did something very un-routine for me. I got into the car and wept.

My daughter's friend is leaving for college next week. This would be the last time I'd drop off my daughter at her house. The. Last. Time. The realization hit me like a slug to the belly. I would never do this again, never drive this route to have a routine "get-together" (once your kid is over 10, I believe it's illegal to call them "play dates").

I sat in the car and cried for a while. I vascillated between crying my eyes out because I'd miss G so much, and chiding myself for being ridiculous. After all, she's going to college, not prison. This is the natural progression of things, what is supposed to happen. But oh, my goodness ~ how it stings.

A and G have been friends for about 5 years now. We've come to love her like a third daughter and have had the good fortune to take her with us on many family vacations and trips. I'm grateful for that and the fact that I'm a compulsive shutterbug. I have every Pumpkin-Patch, Christmas In The Park and Beach Trip fully documented on film. I've got the Trip To Disneyland, the Dance Competitions and the Birthday Celebrations all nicely printed up and scrapbooked. (OK, they will be scrapbooked.) But still, I want more. More time, more trips, more adventures, more TIME. The girls have had sleepovers beyond number, countless get-togethers and endless phone calls. They've had hundreds of meals together and lost many hours of sleep staying up way too late talking. They've goofed off, shopped and grown up -- together. But it still doesn't feel like enough to me.

I'm grateful G has been my daughter's friend these past years; she couldn't have asked for a better confidante, buddy, companion. To the best of my knowledge, G has never let her down. Those who receive that kind of love from a friend are blessed indeed. But tonight, I feel selfish. It was easy to talk about college when it was "in the future", or "six months from now". Such an abstract concept. I blinked, the months flew by and next week the day will come when my "third daughter" will get on a plane and I will watch it fly away, out of the state and out of our daily lives. And on that day, I will have to let go. I hate this. I really do. I know this is a new chapter in G's life -- new adventures, new independence, new pursuits. But perhaps learning to let go is as admirable a thing as learning about Art History, Oceanography or Calculus. Perhaps it's more valuable. It's definitely more useful than most of the classes I took in college and have since forgotten.

So while G takes off in that airplane, my family will be taking a little mini-course down here on terra firma: "Learning to Let Go 101". We won't be getting college credit for it, nor will it appear on any transcript. But it's as precious as any degree, and it will stretch us and eventually serve us well. Because we all love "our G", we want for her what everyone wants for their loved ones: the ability to soar and reach their highest potential.

And one can soar only when one is let go.

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