Tuesday, January 7, 2014


And then it is time
to say goodbye.

It is snowing hard, 
has been snowing all day
and the roads are treacherous.
Son #2 says, "Let me drive."
I know he is a better snow driver
 than I am
and I acquiesce.  

There is so much I want to say
in these last few minutes.
I want to give advice
about buying books
and making spaghetti
and  doing laundry.
I want to tell them to push aside
the failures of the previous semester
to be strong
to fight the forces 
that threaten to consume
that God is bigger 
than evil 
and that if you surround yourself 
with good people
it's easier to fight.
I want to tell them I believe 
in the men 
they can become
I want to tell them
how much I love them.

I sit in the back
and silent
as son navigates
snow and ice and slush
in speeds that seem 
way too fast.
Only once
do a few words of caution 
slide out.
 He barks back at me,
"I know what I am doing."

No one says another word 
until we are almost there.
"Which terminal?"
says he (who knows what he is doing).
And then, 
me, mother,
keeper of all things trivial,
(like airport terminal numbers
and flight times 
and shuttle reservations) 
is allowed to offer advice. 

"Where do I park?" he asks.
My knowledge of the trivial fails.
I cannot remember where
in the giant terminal
we will find our airline
and so I advise him 
to park in the middle.
The boys unload their luggage
and follow me 
two long blocks
through the terminal.

I expect long lines
and crowds
but aside from a few skiers
and parents wearing 
shaky smiles
like my own
the airport is quiet
and we are through check in
in a matter of moments.

I walk the boys to security.
"Do you know where you are going
or are your just walking?"
Son #2 barks
as I miss a turn.
We reverse direction,
go down an escalator,
and then it is really time.
Goodbye time.
The time I hate. 

Son #1 said his goodbyes
at the house
when we were taking down the tree
earlier this afternoon.
He gives me a quick hug
and turns away.
Son #2 
has been grumpy all day
and I wonder 
if he will even say goodbye.
He does.
He hugs me
and my lip trembles. 
"Don't cry," he says
and starts to walk away.
Then turns back to me.
"Don't cry,"
he repeats
giving me another hug
before joining his brother

as I stand there
my two leaky 
little rowboats
once again
out into that big wide world

I am praying
that somehow
they will be 
strong enough
to sail
or at least
that they will stay afloat

until they make their way back
to our home harbor
once again.


BK said...

I love your use of poetry to tell your story. And I feel for you as you have to
as I stand there
my two leaky
little rowboats
once again
out into that big wide world
Happy New Year,

Bernadette said...

What a beautifully written post. You brought back to me in very emotional detail those feelings of saying goodbye to my own sons at that age. Isn't it funny how each child handles their emotions so uniquely?

Linda B said...

I thought about you with that snowy day Saturday, Carol! Despite the gruffness, it seems that your boys love you very much, just as we can see how much you love them. Your poems might be a book someday, will touch many! And love "parents wearing
shaky smiles". Hope your week back goes well!

Nanc said...

Oh Carol...I just want to comment on every single stanza. I heard their voices, I heard your voice. I heard my internal voice resonating deeply. I hated saying goodbye again to she gets all puffy eyed and 'leaky' saying goodbye too. I know God will walk through it and will give strength in your journey. xo

Diane Anderson said...

My daughter headed back a few days ago over snowy roads, too- in her boyfriend's car (his mother driving). I bit my lip as I waved goodbye. Then came inside and had a little cry.

Michelle said...

"Don't cry." Too late. I'm crying right beside you. I cried this morning as I dropped of my two little ones at a new school (daycare). I can't even imagine . . . You have so much to offer and say, but as with most young adults, they already know too much. One day they will understand and know that you were right.

Love, love, love how you ended your story. Heartbreaking, but full of promise. They will be OK and they know who is always waiting on the pier.

elsie said...

What a gift you have for telling a story with so few words. I love the analogy of the leaky boats and safe harbor. Life is quiet now, isn't it?

Tara said...

Those last three stanzas sum up so much about motherhood - heartbreakingly beautiful!

Jaana said...

So touching, so realistic, so moving. God will keep them afloat till they return to you again.

McLibrarian said...

My own son is grown, married, and recently presented me with my first darling grandson, and yet I sit here with tears rolling down my cheeks as I remember those tough good-byes when I dropped him off at college. If it's any comfort, I am happy to share that he is even more considerate and loving now that he has his own son. Isn't parenthood grand? Blessings upon you for so beautifully sharing this "slice of life."

Terje said...

I can relate to the not saying what you want to say and being silent instead. But I think your boys now the unspoken words.

Leigh Anne Eck said...

There are so many parts of this I could comment would be a post itself. I love how you weave your words with your emotions and your feelings so that we can feel them too. Mother - keep of all things trivial, but Carol, you are also the keeper of their hearts and their harbor. Keep it warm for their return. said...

I am leaky little rowboat myself after reading your post. Your imagery and motherly love ooze through your wonderful poem about a moment of life that you might all forget and yet is a piece of who you all are. May this be a good semester for you all,.

Jone said...

Oh Carol, beautiful and sad moments captured tears leaking out. Such emotion captured.

Laura Lynn Benson said...

Your strong heart
Your giving heart
Your patient heart
You grow my heart
With your words
With the soul you are.

Ramona said...

I hate it when that moment arrives - "And then it is time to say goodbye." I love the way your share their different responses to leaving. Blessings for them and you until they sail back home again!

Penny Jansen said...

captures the hardest part of parenting so it