The Leaving and The Letting Go

Two sons.

One already cleaving, the other just recently taken his vow.

Only daughters left, beauties- in- waiting.

It is the sons that really go. It is the sons that leave the first woman for another.

Somewhere between his third and fourth year the middle one packed a backpack, put on his dad’s old camping hat and announced through a grin shoved to one side of his face,

“Mom, I’m leaving.”

This was not a child bent on running away.

He was going on a journey and he had to get to it.

I watched him that day, from the kitchen door, confident, smiling;

He will only go so far.

But when he made his way down to the driveway he never looked back.  My heart skipped concern. The boy fixed his eyes on the broken pavement before him and never saw the pickup truck slow to a stop right in front of him.

This is it. This is when he will cry and come running back to me.

He did not run.  He did not come back to me.

My boy lifted his eyes to assess the grill of the truck and then stepped to the right of it and put his eyes back on the ground,  the beat-up hat sliding over his face and he proceeded to walk forward.

It was I who did the running that day.

Down the dirt driveway I went, rocks flinging from my feet and a mama voice coming from my mouth, the pound pound pounding of my heart screaming two terrifying realizations:  there will be more cars coming and my son meant what he said about leaving.

I should have known.

I should have known when he repeatdly snuck into the car to “drive” it only to kill the battery so many times the man from the towing company recognized his face.

I should have known when he  found purpose in packing his dad’s old lunch box, how he purposed his body on the stairs-turned truck, and how he purposed to say good-bye.

I should have known when he would lean against the windowsill, chin barely skimming the edge of it, placing little cars in a line to send them to destinations that lived only in imagination.

This one, the one in the middle,  who would hold my hand and my heart tight for twenty three years.

This one, the one in the middle, who would jump and climb and dance and say, “Mom, watch me!”

In the backyard tree, on the trampoline, from a theatre stage, and an airport window I watched him and he watched me.

Then without warning, this one, the one in the middle, would suddenly bolt for open spaces away away away from me.

The one who would tell me his secrets and dreams and confessions and fears since the beginning of his own words and then would skedaddle.

Off to the woods or into the shire, past mountain ranges through spanish speaking places and over oceans to sleep in  asian hut dwellings.

He is a Traveler, a boy bent toward adventure and love.

And now he has them both.

He is leaving and cleaving and I am letting him go.

Letting him go  tell another  his secrets and dreams and confessions and fears.

Letting him go to the one he was made for.


It is right and good for a mother to love a son fiercely.

It is right and good for a mother to hold him loosely in the fierceness so he is free to cleave and to cling to another that is his counterpart.

I stand with the Traveler’s father, opposite his bride and her parents, behind a curtain of paper garlands and golden leaves swirling light as I witness their first communion as husband and wife.

I let go.

The Traveler  begins his next great adventure holding another woman’s hand and heart tight. She will watch him and he will watch her and they will run through open spaces together.

22 thoughts on “The Leaving and The Letting Go

  1. That’s the way it was with my son, too. He loves his wife and family and hates being away from them for any reason but when the US Air Force sent him to Germany, he bravely went, hating his time away but knowing he was serving his country. Now he gets up at 2 am faithfully so he can call his wife and sons every morning before they leave for school. My pride in him is great–he his a worthy man of God.

  2. He has not gone so far that he won’t come back…and your numbers have increased; I was brought to tears with your story, because I, too, have a son; but because your bond is strong, I don’t believe the distance will be too great. Such a beautiful wedding, such a great guy…you are a wonderful mom, you will be blessed by your sons over and over.

  3. I couldn’t have said it any better Mitz…. Congratulations to your new addition of family. New adventures, new memories to make.

  4. Took me back to wedding days of my two sons, which are now years ago. The first glimpse of that beautiful bride and the mystery of the unity before your eyes as they say their vows is such a letting go. The mother/ son dance where there is a sharing that you will forever hold in your heart and another level of letting go. One of the things I thank God for so often is that, for my sons, those who hold their hearts hold them and love them well. Those times that just mom and son share now are so wonderful and give much to ponder in my heart and then they return to their love. Beautiful, Mitsie.

  5. Memories of letting go of my own and only son…..even before his heart was captured by another woman. My heart still has a bruise there, but this I know….the balm that has been poured on that bruise by God’s faithgul grace in his life is bringing a joy that far supercedes the pain of letting go……you’ll see. I love you Mits.

  6. Sons and daughters are only lent to us, by God, for a little while. We do our best to show them the way and then they are off on another journey through this life. They hold our hand as they as they grow, all the while holding the hand of Our Lord also. As they let go of our hand, we know Our Lord will never let go of theirs. Don’t think of this as losing a son. Think of it as gaining a whole new wing on your wonderful family. Blessings to You & Yours, Shirl

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