Friday, 26 September 2008


It was dusk when she got back, it had been a long long day.
She drove the car back onto the drive, stopped, but didn't move.
She didn't want to get out of the car, almost as if she stayed there, it would all be ok and there would be no more pain.
She started to think about the last couple of days.

They'd had a row the day before, the first one they'd ever really had. There'd been lots of BIG discussions over the years, but not a full scale row like this one. They'd been able to make up thank goodness, but it had been horrible.

To think he'd been smoking for years, and she'd only just found out. But she was grateful she had, she'd been able to say he could start over, go in as a smoker or a non smoker, which ever he wanted. He could be exactly the person he wanted to be, this was his time.

It was no good she had to go in the house, turning off the engine and picking up her bag she got out of the car and walked slowly towards the front door.

Inserting her key, she opened the door,opening her mouth to call out 'Hello I'm home' she stopped mid gasp, there was no-one to hear her say those words.

Oh this was hard, the tears sprung to her eyes. She didn't know what to do with herself, so doing what all English people do the world over she put the kettle on to make a cup of tea.

It was so quiet, she turned on the radio for some company, it was still tuned into his favourite radio station, she couldn't bear that not feeling as she did. She switched it back off and finished making the tea.

She wandered into the living room, she was a very tidy person and there was no trace of him in this room, it was all elsewhere in the house. Absent mindedly she sipped her tea and thought about the day.

He's been so excited deciding what to take, and what to leave behind, and packing the car up this morning, there was hardly room for her to fit in the passenger seat and she had to carry a plant on her lap all the way there.

When they'd got to Cambridge, they'd found the place where all the other parents were unloading their cars. His car was definitely the scruffiest, but it was his!

He got the key to his room and climbed up the winding staircase to the room, it was wonderful, easily Elizabethan judging by the beams showing through the plaster. It overlooked the street opposite his College. They worked hard together unloading and going back for more for what seemed like hours, just piling the stuff in the middle of the room. It was done, he'd met someone on the corridor, it was evident that he wanted to talk to this new potential friend, and to unpack his things in his way.

She wasn't needed, for the first time in 18 years he didn't want her to be there. Knowing this, knowing that this was the start of letting him go for him to find his way as an adult she swallowed her emotions . Gave him a huge hug, and said she'd text when she got home.

Remembering this she got her phone and sent him a message, and immediately got one back saying he was fine and had started unpacking, and that he loved her.

That was enough,all day she'd held herself in, and now, only now, looking at his text did she start to cry. How was she going to cope without him, who was she going to talk to, who would have time for her the way he had.

Oh this was no good, she had to accept this and get on with it. Wiping her eyes, she got up and decided to be brave and go in his room and see what that felt like. After all the sooner she did it the easier.

It was absolutely awful, there was his unmade bed, the sheets waiting to be changed. His waste basket over flowing, his drawers in his chest of drawers open with unrequired clothes falling out, she sat on his bed and sobbed. He'd gone, her eldest son, her first born.

But being her, she couldn't just sit there, so stripping off the bed, and putting fresh linen on the bed, folding the clothes, shutting the drawers, taking the rubbish downstairs, she started to feel more in control as she tidied.

She shut the curtains, put on the lamp to make it cosy, and thought to herself someone can come here and I have a guest room. This thought helped, even though she knew it was only being used to keep her from crying some more.

A while later, her youngest son erupted back into the house. Going upstairs he called down to her, 'I'm going to sleep in my brothers room from now on, it's bigger than mine' And suddenly that was the answer. She'd move their rooms over and then that smaller room would be a way for her to deal with her big son coming and going as he would in the next three years. It would be almost an impersonal space,so she could get used to him not being there.

Three weeks later she went to visit for the first time. She'd booked herself into a hotel by the river,it was the first of many visits over the next three years.

She went to see him in his room, it was amazing he's made house in the room, posters on the walls, strictly against college policy! Blankets and cushions piled up on the chairs and bed. House plants all over the place.He was proud of how cozy he'd made it. He was able to own how much she'd influenced him in making a home wherever she was.

She'd never known that he was as much of a home maker as she was, it made her ridiculously pleased, and happy that he was able to cope with his homesickness by making a safe little nest for himself.

The pain of separation did go, she loved having him home for the holidays, but sometimes when he was back she amazed herself in looking forward to his going. They both had to work at making a future for themselves, that meant that they didn't think of him ever living at home for any length of time again. He was grown and it was time for him to live his adult life.

After all we only get to borrow our kids for a while, and she was grateful for those years they had together as he grew into the wonderful man he is today.


Sorrow said...

I am sitting here
sniffling like a fool...
my eyes are all red..
and weepy
gonna go make coffee.
Drat you...
making me bawl like a baby
I am leaning a little
towards you..
like i am hugging you
or something..
Going to put the damn kettle on and get back to work.

Trixie said...

Ahhh honey, you are making me feel sad for when my boys grow up....

even though I just raised my voice at Dill for knocking over papers off my desk and he's now hiding under covers hating me for it.... actually, by the time I typed that... he popped his head up again like everything is ok.

Kids, we don't want to see them grow up.

Mei Del said...

i'm just waiting for mine to go and really thankful that she's a baby really, although always the oldest in her class, september born, the oldest in the family, she's happy to be home with me - i don't know how i'll feel if she wants to test her wings, honestly, because i think this one could be with me forever... so different from me because i couldn't wait to leave home, left when i wasn't even 14 ... the longest she's been away was the recent inter-railing trip when she sent a postcard which put my heart in my throat - hi ma, we've not been murdered or even robbed yet and it's nearly time to come home (!! - jesus!) - the callous young!

Walker said...

Tears of sadness
Tears of pride
Tears of joy
They're all tears of love.

You did good raising him and he made a little piece of your home in his new one because that how he remembers home with you.

You're only a phone call away when you need your fix.

trousers said...

That was so incredibly evocative. It gave me memories of my own entry into student days away from home - very different from this account, but the strength of your description served to bring it back. And how poignant to see it from the other side too.

I hope you're ok right now, that writing this has helped x

Angela said...

I have two daughters who have left home a while ago (and I suffered as you did), but with daughters it is different. A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life...(??) We are still very close, or rather - again - until they had learned to be independent. It is hard for them, too, to let go! And it is good if we can help them by accepting it. What I did after the youngest had left was to start teaching my neighbourhood children (English, but also gardening and baking biscuits and generally grandmother things). It was and is sooo rewarding - in the end there were more than fifty children coming, of all ages. And though I have moved away from them now, many are still writing me.

Mel said...

((((((((((( you )))))))))))))

Yep.....sniffling the whole time....


(((((((((( you ))))))))))))

Fire Byrd said...

I didn't mean to make you cry, sorrow. just wanted to write down from 4 years ago now, that in a different way I'm facing on Tuesday.

trix, it is hard that they grow and need us less and less, but they are better company now than ever they were as small children.

great post card mei, so reassuring!!

walker your so right they are both onthe end of a phone, that is if they have any credit, have the phone charged !!!

yes trousers this helped,it was comforting to write and to look back at how far I am from that miserable day 4 years ago.

angela, it's good to find something else in life to replace that mothering of our own, you sound as if you have it licked.

mel, you are such a sweetie.


Virtual Voyage said...

Love the bit where the younger son immediately jumps into the larger room....! I'll spend the rest of the day trying to work out where the familiar pic was taken.

Fire Byrd said...

vv, I could spare you the thinking it's the first room my son had opposite Magdelane College in Cambridge.

Queen Vixen said...

I know some of these words were meant for me... and I thank you for them. Empty nest. It hurts.

Pam said...

I remember that like it was yesterday!Sobbing away down in the depths of the backyard by the rainwater tank, the cat twirling around my legs in concern, but you take a deep breath, get on with it, and it all works out in the end doesn't it!.Gee that bought back memories though!Thanks for your visits to my site. I always appreciate your comments.

Fire Byrd said...

Your right Qv they were for you, I knew today would be tough for you.
But tomorrow will be easier and the day after all the way up till that beautiful daughter of yours goes!

Pam , it's good I think to revisit stuff like this now and again, we can see how far we've travelled on our journeys and relationships with our children.

jeff@sally said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog for a little while. :) I love your writing and how true it is when you said we only get to borrow them for a little while. Never take your little ones for granted. You don't know how long you will get to love them and care for them. Each moment with them is a gift.


Fire Byrd said...

sal, thank you for your comment, having read your blog, I know you know exactly how precious time is with our beloved children.

Lady in red said...

I have not been there yet but this got me thinking about next yr when OJ goes off, if hes lucky to Oxford otherwise to Warwick, Bath or Bristol.

Last night DC was invited to the lovely Charlie's home for a farewell dinner with her family as she is off to Brighton today. DC and Charlie have been a couple for 4.5 yrs so I think this will be hard on him although luckily Brighton is not so far away that he wont be able to visit her which is why he has finally done something about changing his car to a more economical one. we go to collect it in an hour.

Lady in red said...

I have not been there yet but this got me thinking about next yr when OJ goes off, if hes lucky to Oxford otherwise to Warwick, Bath or Bristol.

Last night DC was invited to the lovely Charlie's home for a farewell dinner with her family as she is off to Brighton today. DC and Charlie have been a couple for 4.5 yrs so I think this will be hard on him although luckily Brighton is not so far away that he wont be able to visit her which is why he has finally done something about changing his car to a more economical one. we go to collect it in an hour.

Cormac Mac Art said...

Heartbrecking, beautiful, funny. And with a nice cuppa.