My oldest son is off to college – or “university” as it’s called in Canada where he will go to study – in about a month. Or a little less than a month. Too soon, really. He’s not possibly ready …

I really hate letting go.

Until my son graduated in June I thought I was a fabulous Let Goer. I have no problem donating books to the library. My wardrobe is regularly rotated to the racks of consignment stores. I clean out the fridge every week, sending droopy vegetables to the compost bucket. Papers on the dining room table don’t pile up (not really), and any sentimental bauble I keep around better have a good story attached to it.

I like to think I don’t keep an inordinate number of things around that are not useful or happy-making. Hold on to something (except certain justifiable opinions and well-deserved grudges)? Nah. I’m a Let Go kind of girl.

Just ask my family. I’ve given away sneakers I figured no longer fit a certain kid, offered small appliances and electronics that never got used to neighbors, and most frustratingly for my people, I mindlessly, almost robotically, declutter anything that’s not nailed down and labeled with a mark of personal ownership and statement of intention. Including leftovers. From the night before.

But every morning I stand in the doorway of my oldest son’s bedroom watching him snore off another 12-hour shift at the lobster wharf, and I can’t imagine that soon he will no longer sleep there in his blue wooden bed under my roof surrounded by the life we made.

I know it’s going to happen. He can’t wait to pack his suitcases and drive to the starting line of the rest of his life. I know he’s going. I know. I know. I know.

Yet when I stand in that dark hallway, I’m holding on to his every breath. I listen for his heartbeat. I’m sure I can hear it loud as thunder. It fills my ears and echoes through the house and I know he’s safe like he was when he lived inside me under my heart.

Let go? How can I let go of this?

I’ve always been one of those moms who enjoyed the teens more than the toddlers, who’s looked forward to The Launch, not just of the first one, but all of them because I have a few plans for After (the childrearing years).

I must have missed the part where I actually have to let go of the child … of the childhood.

I’ve been preoccupied by this very basic lesson all summer.

When I’ve sat down to write this column for the Coastal Journal the last couple of months, I press my fingers to the keys, and my eyes fill with tears.

I could tell you about all kinds of fun things happening in our communities that I think you’d like. Someone gave us an old boat we (really, my husband) fixed up — lots of stories there. Raspberries came in strong this season, and I recently revived my old pickle recipe after a good deal on a half bushel of cucumbers. I have some excellent travel tips if you’re headed to the Canadian Maritimes. Or Montreal. Especially that city.

But the only thing that’s there when I turn my hands to type is: My oldest son is off to college. I’m having a hard time letting him go.

It’s not possible that I am the only person to ever feel this way, right? I get stuck in that place sometimes … where I feel like it’s all just me and why can’t I just suck it up and do whatever needs to be done?

So when I came to the empty screen this week, I thought I’d just tell you all about it. I had to stop a few times and sniffle through. I don’t have any big conclusions. As he has always been, my oldest son is my first. First hello. First so long.

I have even less wisdom at the moment. But I bet you do. What was it like when your child left home? In the weeks leading up to my son’s big launch, I’d love to hear your stories.

Send them to me — please — at [email protected]


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