This morning I watched my daughter’s plane taxi from the gate, bound for Spain. Like a bad Julia Robert’s movie, I bawled my eyes out. Ellie’s been gone before, but today felt different, more painful. Maybe it was because Spain is so far from Colorado. Perhaps it was because she’ll be gone all summer. Maybe it was because I have a crazy imagination that plays dirty tricks on me throughout the night. And perhaps, most likely of all, the pain was all mine, simply having a difficult time saying good-bye.
Ellie will be 17 next month. She’s ready to find her way. And yet, it’s hard to let go.
As I drove home, exhausted and red-eyed, I thought about my writing. The process of my work, putting pen to paper, has always helped me understand my life and vice versa. Recalling my choked good-bye made me remember that letting go is part of the work, both in life and in my writing.
Advanced writers craft pages upon pages, only to delete them and begin again. It’s never easy. We love our words. We love our babies. But for the health of the manuscript and the health of our children, it’s sometimes best to say good-bye.
No doubt that I’ll get teary again this summer as I think about Ellie, but I’ll have tools to help me cope. I’ll call, I’ll email, I’ll text. And before I know it, she’ll be back. By now I’ve got a tool kit for my writing to help me edit—I’ll scratch, I’ll copy, I’ll delete. And before I know it, they’ll be a chapter.
It’s okay to be sad. But we need to let go, words and kids included.