Nothing Prepares You for The Ache
Please gift me a lifetime subscription to tissues
But no, tissues are just not enough for the deluge of tears. You’d think that I would be used to saying goodbye to my son by now. Six years ago, when he left for college for a 5-year dual degree course, I was a secret mess even if I hid it behind a lot of fake smiling.
You’d think I’d be a proud mama, considering the fact that he’s headed abroad for his PhD. You’d be absolutely right, yes. But that does not mean I have to give up the parental privilege of hurting inside each time I think that the day of his departure is drawing closer.
Nothing prepares you for the ache of saying goodbye. As I go around our home, the sight of every little thing squeezes my heart. The tears have a mind of their own — and feel quite free to flow at the slightest provocation. Sometimes, for no reason other than because I have a mushy mommy heart.
Nothing can prepare me for the ache of . . .
- Not being able to wake my son up with some baby talk. Don’t judge me on the baby talk! It is just a ritual we have and enjoy.
- Making a grocery list that seems painfully bare. Because, his favorite items will be conspicuous by their absence. No cheese, no chocolates, no sweet corn.
- Not seeing him smile at me each time I catch his eye.
- Crying into my breakfast with my gaze fixed on the empty seat that is his. We enjoyed breakfasting together.
- Trying to decide what to make for lunch and realizing the menu has suddenly shrunk as I won’t cook anything he loved.
- Worrying if he has had his lunch/dinner/dessert. Yes, dessert. My boy has a sweet tooth.
- His dad refusing dessert and suggesting we think of it only when he visits. I am diabetic, but he doesn’t have to pretend to be!
- The sight of his face on video calls— and seeing that he has had a haircut and shave — and looking, oh so adorable and young and the frustration that I can’t hug him.
- The vacuum in my arms.
- Hanging up the multiple clip hanger on the clothesline only to realize that there’s nothing to hang there — and missing the 15 pairs of underwear that went into the laundry every week.
- Not hearing him sing and hum as he went about his stuff at home.
- Imagining his voice gently saying “thank you mi” for every little thing. I mean, every. little. thing.
- Not being able to make his favorite foods — especially pizza.
- Watching pizza ads and wanting to cry. He loves pizza.
- Seeing the impression of his head on his pillow. Yes, I avoid fluffing out the pillow for the longest time.
- The sight of his tiny t-shirt in my closet that I keep out of nostalgia. And the sight of his messy closet I stand in front of, just so I can inhale.
- His dad’s choked voice, filled with pride over his son getting into a prestigious institute and adjusting to the new life.
- The sight of his house slippers in their spot near the door and thinking he’ll be back at 4 pm —except, he wont.
- The space in the house. Oh, the space and the deafening quiet! The sight of his desk and the empty chair with the skewed cushion.
- The half-filled water bottle on the floor near his bed— that I must empty. Only, he won’t be around for me to scold him.
- A neighbor bringing something over for him, and realizing he’s away!
- His neat book shelves. Categorized by topic and interest. His school shelves, a mess.
- The pencil shavings in a cup on his desk. And the memory of his hand holding the pencil, sketching.
- The two huge bags of books he’s kept aside to give away.
- The long empty evenings and his chatter. Oh, the silence.
- His laughter which turns into a guffaw as he watches comedy on TV.
- Coming across his drawings, doodles and sketches in the most unexpected of places.
- Stumbling on a sheet of paper in a plastic sleeve tucked under his clothes— a letter he wrote to his Grandma. In heaven.
- The thought that he wont be home for my birthday this month. Or his, in November.
- Finding his notebook in his backpack on the dining table chair where he left it. As I am about to place it on his shelf, I am prompted to just peek at his handwriting — and feel overwhelmed at finding this: “How I would like to see myself after 10 years” running to three pages.
Sigh. The list is never-ending.
But just for the record, I am proud of him. I know he’ll be fine. Still, the sun will shine brighter when he’s home.
Originally published at Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles. Did you smile today?