Leavetaking and leavekeeping, plus a ROW80 check-in

My older son left for college today, which should not have been odd, but was, despite the fact that he left mid-senior year of high school to go work for a living. After two years of manual labor, being laid off, on the dole (as my Irish relatives used to call it), he asked to come to live with us to go to college.

The local community college didn’t offer what he wanted, what he felt he had missed. As everyone scattered the instant class was over to their respective jobs, families, or life, he felt isolated from the college community that his father and I had told him about, and continued to extol, since we both work at a university.

So he packed the car and headed an hour and a half south on the New York Thruway, barely a skip and a jump from here, but I miss him already.  I know it’s the best thing for him to do, and I know that is the half-full glass, but I’m feeling the half-empty glass at the moment. In part, I recognized the signs of his nervousness, in his reluctance to get going until late in the day.  As my husband pointed out, that is my classic behavior, when I am nervous or anxious. 

I wrote a poem in my twenties which I titled Leavekeeping, to express trying to keep one’s memories with one, instead of taking leave of them. I suppose given my losing my brother in December, I am less willing to say goodbye, even temporarily, to other family members, even when I know it is the right thing, the best thing, the healthy thing, to do.

Do any of you find it hard to say goodbye, even when the person leaving you is going toward the fruition of his/her dreams?  I feel very small and mean right now, although I did hide all of this sentiment behind a brave front.

On another mixed note, my ROW80 progress.  I have been a very bad participant, not checking in for the last several times. I did make some progress, however.

  1. Meditate for no less than ten minutes a day. Attained. It clears the mind, offers peace; why have I not done this before?
  2. Find gratitude for at least one thing every day. Attained. I have been grateful for things, like running water (after thinking of the public fountains in medieval Europe as the most convenient source for water); for people, like my husband, who figured out how to add an email address to my WordPress domain, friends who drag me away from the day job for a brief respite; for actions, being able to console a friend of mine, whose brother is also dying of lung cancer, or for those of my younger son, who counseled his brother about what courses to take at college.
  3. Return to the daily habit of at least 250 words a day. Not attained.  I still have very difficult days, but I have at least managed a few sentences most days, and I did turn in my sponsor post (although a few days late). I have signed up for some workshops at DIYMFA, which will force me to do some writing.  That is a good thing.
  4. Never sit when I can stand, never stand when I can pace.  Stand for at least 5 minutes every hour; pace for at least 5 minutes every hour; walk for 5 minutes every 2 hours. Attained. Last Friday I walked two miles around midtown Manhattan to see my various doctors there. I have lost 10 pounds since the beginning of October–an added benefit.
  5. Contact every extended family member on their birthday. Pending–there have been no birthdays yet.
  6. Reply to comments on blogs within two days. Not attained.  I started catching up with the comments of condolences in mid-December, but despite my sincere, overwhelming gratitude for all of you, I couldn’t go on for a while. I hope to get back on track with comments.

So, while staring at the half-full glass, I am planning to do better.  There is always room for improvement.  Please consider dropping by some of the participants’ blogs to cheer them on; they are all listed here and would love to hear from you.

7 thoughts on “Leavetaking and leavekeeping, plus a ROW80 check-in”

  1. Elizabeth, you’ve made great progress in establishing some of those essential, healthy little habits that continue to elude me, LOL. Good for you! As to the rest, you’ll get there. I understand about your son moving away. I have three sons, and when the oldest moved 1.5 hours south of us to go to college, I cried all night and haunted his room. Lord knows what a basket case I’ll be when the youngest leaves…

  2. It sounds to me like you are doing amazingly well, with all that you’ve had on your plate lately, and so much of it very emotionally charged. That meditate each day is one I’m struggling with. I used to do this every morning and it was such a great way to start the day. But with retirement went the structured day, and unfortunately the meditating along with it. I must work on that!

    Take care of yourself!

  3. I could spend hours wandering around Midtown Manhattan. When I’ve been there on business, I would leave the hotel to go to dinner at 6:30 and not get back until after midnight.

    I lived through my brother’s youngest son deciding to move to Southern California to be a screenwriter. I know it was tough for him.

  4. Elizabeth, I hate to say goodbye. Hate it! I hear your pain. When my boys left home, I was devastated. And they didn’t leave until they were 24. I know, I have to get over it. lol. But you feel like they take a big piece of your heart out when they leave. Your son sounds like such a sweetheart. He’ll stay in touch. Love that text messaging. It’s the best way to communicate with them. It gives them the dignity of space and you the ability to keep the relationship going. See. Don’t get me started on the goodbye thing. lol. You’re doing great Elizabeth. You’re staying active and moving forward. Hang in there girl! It’s going to get better! 🙂

  5. With everything you have going on, it sounds like you’re still doing pretty well, and managing to attain a good portion of your goals. You’re making good progress, and it’ll get easier as you keep moving forward.

  6. I always wondered what had inspired the name ‘Leavekeeping’; thanks for sharing your choice with us, Elizabeth.

    Goodbyes are hard in most situations. It sounds like you’re dealing with these changes normally and very human-ly. Not small and mean at all… That fact that you feel the loss of your son’s presence in your daily life is a sign of how much you value him as part of that life. And the fact that you chose to ‘put on a good face’ and didn’t try to hold him back is a sign that you respect his choices and needs.

    Joy, respect, regrets… sounds very much like love.

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