Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Weekend Visit Home from College

We sat on the hard, wire frame benches inside the Greyhound bus terminal, stifling our yawns, and absentmindedly listening to a cable news program that nobody in their right mind watches so early on a Sunday morning.

My husband Bob's habit of arriving early for everything meant that we had a half an hour to wait.

A half an hour of extra time with my daughter Melissa, who would soon board the bus that would take her back to her college, located three hours from our suburban New Jersey home.

I could have used the time to have one last, meaningfull talk about life and love. I could have used the time to hold her tight, squeezing out enough hugs to last the six weeks until her sophomore year ended, and I'd see her again.

But alas, there was no need.

The weekend visit home had been a good one. Despite the mounds of assignments and projects and sorority commitments that filled her obsessively organized to-do list, Melissa came home because she knew that her presence at our Passover seder meant the world to me. Especially this year, the first Passover with an empty seat where my mother should have been.

During the all-too-short time leading up to Saturday night's holiday celebration, Melissa managed to squeeze in a long, bed-time talk with mom, a Food Network marathon with dad, brunch with friends, and even reluctant time spent on homework.

Although she seemed so comfortable at home, especially with our kitty cat cuddled by her side, something didn't seem quite right. Not so much with her, but with me. I experienced an emotion that took me by surprise.

I felt selfish.

Selfish for wanting the weekend to never end.

Selfish for wanting to block her path to the bus.

Selfish for wanting her to come home this summer, and every summer for the remainder of her college tenure, instead of exploring internship opportunities in cities much too far from southern New Jersey.

Selfish for wanting her to put aside plans to spend part of her senior year studying abroad.

Selfish for wanting her to return to our little townhouse after graduation, even though a job, a relationship, or (egads) both, may take her into unknown territory, hundreds of miles away from her mother's loving arms.

Selfish for wanting her to live her life under my protective shadow, instead of following her own path to happiness.

For as much as I love having her around, I know, for right now, school is where she needs to be. More important,  I know, for right now, school is where she wants to be.

Bob and I watched as the bus pulled into the station, and Melissa joined the handful of passengers preparing to board. We gave her a quick hug goodbye, and quietly walked back to the car.

The bus was taking her back to her life of projects and parties and sorority commitments and friends.

Back to where she belonged.

Meanwhile, Bob and I put on our empty-nester hats, and went back home to take a nap.

Back to where we belonged.

Melissa and Bob waiting at the Greyhound bus terminal.

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