Good-Bye

He was a very quiet young man. Shy, even. When I asked when we could meet him, she hesitated and then reluctantly admitted that he wasn’t comfortable meeting us. I chided her that if he wanted to be in a relationship with her, it meant being in a relationship with us too. Eventually, he’d have to get comfortable with us.

And he did. Over a period of three years, he became a member of our family. He was there on Christmas day, there on random evenings, there on trips to visit extended family. I slowly started to get to know him. I found him unfailingly polite – a kind and gentle soul. A calm counterpoint to Jane’s more volatile, strong-willed nature.

And then she called me while we were visiting family out of state for Thanksgiving and she was home alone because of work. She dropped a bombshell and told me it was over. She had broken up with him. She was crying. I was stunned. Why? And why now, when she was home alone with no one there to comfort her?

But there it was. I texted him and told him that I was sorry, that I knew he was hurting, and that we would always care for him. He responded in kind. His mother wished me a Happy Thanksgiving with a broken heart. I returned the sentiment. I felt hollow and anxious and…helpless. As the days went on, I realized what my biggest problem was. Why I kept crying when I thought about it.

There was a parenting truth there that I hadn’t seen coming. Hadn’t thought about and did not like at all.

My children can bring anyone they want into my life and I have no control over how long they stay.

I can love the person, consider them family, be comfortable with them in my house whether I’m home or not, and then – just like that – they can be gone. I have no control; I have no say. It can happen without warning, and it truly doesn’t matter how I feel about it. I just have to accept and adjust.

I don’t like that. I don’t like this person not being around anymore. I don’t like wondering about the next person. About whether I will like them as much, whether they won’t last either, whether I will be sad or relieved if they don’t.

I am proud of my daughter – proud of the strong young woman she is becoming. Proud of her ability to make hard decisions rather than just going with what is comfortable, what everyone is expecting. Maybe this was the right decision, maybe it wasn’t. But it was her decision. Not mine.

I just get to live with the results. And that really sucks.

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