Yesterday, I found myself googling the words “empty nest syndrome” and doing what I always do when I feel anxious: read everything I can find on the subject.
The days are numbered. My daughter leaves to Harvard College in exactly 32 days.
Of course I’m superbly proud of her — it is no small feat to gain admission to Harvard — the grand-daughter of a Dominican immigrant woman who worked in a factory for years. This is one of the most promising things that has happened to our family, and I know that she’s going to spend the most remarkable four years of her life there.
But I can’t seem to ignore or quiet down the ache in my heart. I feel it right here in the middle of my chest, as I realize that she will no longer be there, in her room, or downstairs in the living room — ever present and available for everything.
We’ve been each others’ go-to person for years. She’s been a wonderful daughter — a cheerleader, supporter, my think tank companion, helper at home, graphic designer and my joy. Yes, my joy. She has the natural ability to bring peace to those around her — nothing unravels her. She’s the no-stress zone in my life.
As with every experience that has felt uncomfortable or challenging, I allow myself to embrace all the emotions. The more I experience these emotions fully, the closer I get to a place of logic and insight. What I am learning, as I grief her departure to college, is how dependent I have been on her all these years. This is an important revelation — one that I can clearly appreciate right now.
So I whole heartedly welcome the opportunity to find all the joy and closeness I share with her in other people, things and places. It’s my next phase of growth, as I venture to live life without her around me all the time.
My biggest fear? Moving day (smile).
I pray to God that I don’t turn into the stereotyped emotional Latina parent, as I say my goodbyes to her. I envision thick tears rolling down my face, with serious tightness on my chest, desperately trying to avoid loud sobbing.
But something tells me I’m going to be alright. I have 32 days to prepare, to let go. By the time August 21st rolls around, I’ll be filled with excitement and pure joy.
So I say:
Go my dear angel
wings spread so wide they embrace the world
as you search for your own north star
make waves, laugh loud, inspire
go change the world…