Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saying goodbye

A few nights ago, I sat at the edge of Noah's bottom bunk. His sheet was curled around him, a shroud covering even his head. He was so still, like he was already asleep. I waited, listening to sounds outside; the slow buzz of a bee at dusk, the building winds whispering rumors of a storm sitting somewhere on Lake Michigan; a motorcycle revving miles away. I waited, because I knew at some point the rock still lump beneath the sheet would give itself away. There would be a shudder or a swallowed onset of tears.

One of Noah's best friends moved away on Sunday. And by away, I mean a distant island called Unalaska, in Alaska.

Google it-- distant is probably an understatement.

We did the sleepovers and the as-much-time-as-possible play-dates in the weeks leading up to Liam's departure. We did the reminders of emails and skype accounts and summer-time visits. We even got a blank book out and had them start writing a story together, to be mailed across the miles and written in by each of their hands.

Still, the first time you have to say goodbye to someone so important is never easy.

Slowly, the sheets began to rustle. My boy's sandy blonde head appeared, tears welling in his eyes.

"I miss him already," was all he said.

Curling up beside my firstborn, I tucked his head beneath my chin and sighed.

I said nothing. I just tried to get our breathing in sync, a trick I learned was so calming to him as a baby. His legs stretched so far down the bed our toes almost touched. I realized just how big he was getting. I realized how soon I might be grieving miles of separation with those I am raising to go their own way. And I tried my hardest to let those thoughts pass with the billowing clouds outside. I tried to go back to our breaths, to be there in a way that said nothing, and everything.

Because sometimes, it is the silence we need the most.


Brooke G. said...

Oh my! This is so sad. I feel his pain. Good friends are HARD to lose. I vividly remember my best friend moving away when I was six. Devastating! And you know what - it is still hard. My best friend moved away last summer and I haven't full recouped. Poor Noah! You are doing all you can - by just being there.

Sarah said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. *wiping away tears* Poor Noah.

I love how you handled it. I remember learning that breathing trick when my babies were young and thinking I was done with it as they grew up. Makes me strangely happy to know that I might get the chance to do it again - and sad that it might be necessary. :(

Neveen said...

Oh goodness, I am so sorry. I am sending a giant wave of good energy his way. I couldn't have thought of a better way to handle a situation like that! I really love/ and learn from your mothering style. Thank you Kate, You're wonderful!

Muslim Hippie said...

The Neveen comment was actually mine! My sister is visiting and is using my computer ( in-case you're wondering)

Sara said...

Sob. My oldest is about to go to Kindergarten, and I'm feeling like she will be going off to college way too soon. Nice post, thanks.

Sus said...

Aw, Noah. Poor guy. I was going to say how much I love the idea of the joint story, but, I know because I've longed many times for a Divine-Secrets-of-the-Ya-Ya-Sisterhood geographic closeness of my own far-flung friends, that it's just not the same. It's the first of many heartbreaks we'll be seeing them through. He's growing emotionally, Kate - his history and store of hurts and joys will soon stretch almost as long as yours, just like his legs.

patsyrose said...

Life is a series of gains and losses that often break our hearts. Having a loving friend or family member to see you through the rough times is the most anyone can ask for. Just continue to be there for your son and he'll be okay.

Anonymous said...

you're right i do miss him, although i can't wait to sign up for skype, get my IM and email. i thought you wrote a great blog. i thought i was written exactly as i felt it, i'm happy you shared my friendship with all the people that read your blog. your a great mom, I can;t wait to spend some time with you.


Zip n Tizzy said...

I don't know which is making me cry more, your post, or Noah's response to it.
Kate, you are an amazing mom!
I'm glad he knows it.
Thank goodness for todays technology. It's so much easier to stay in touch. I'm just now reconnecting with people I'd moved away from as a child. I hope the two of them can stay close even while miles apart.