She'll Be Gone

emily baby 1
It’s late, and I haven’t had time to post anything today, so I thought I’d share something I wrote a long–VERY LONG–time ago (about 15 years ago). [edit: this happened in 1993] The incident I recount below touched me so much at the time that I wanted to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it.  When you read it you will see why it is even more moving to me now than it was then.
A high school friend was finally getting married (at the ripe old age of 25), and had come to pick me up to take me to the bridal salon to be measured and to see the bridesmaid’s dresses.  My daughter, Emily, just awakened from a nap and actively experiencing a case of the terrible twos, screamed the whole way there.  We met up with another friend at the salon, and busied ourselves in oohing and aahing over the dresses and moaning and groaning over our measurements.
Emily, of course, was busy too–running in and out of dressing rooms, rifling through the racks of dresses, and squealing with delight as I chased her and dragged her back, over and over.  Watching as she pulled out dress after dress for her perusal, I’ll admit that I had a brief vision of her in twenty years or so, with her dark hair veiled in white, but I thought more about how exasperated I was, and how much fun this outing would have been if her daddy (at a study group with law school friends) could have been home to watch her.
There were other customers in the salon, including a mother, father, and little sister watching a prospective bride try on gowns in search of that perfect one for her special day.  Emily, naturally, was already making friends with them, having struck up a conversation by saying,“This is a stupid place to be.”  The father, still in his delivery man’s uniform after a day of hard work, and the freckle-faced little sister, listened tolerantly as the mother complimented Emily’s unusual verbosity and talked about her own daughters.
Back in our corner with Emily firmly–for the moment–in tow, my friends and I watched the scene.  Surely, we said, from the vantage point of our advanced age and experience (we were all 25 and two of us had been married several years), that girl was too young to be married. We could all feel the poignancy of the scene–the parents watching their red-headed teenager about to take the step they had taken years before, seeing her transfigured as she tried on gown after gown of bridal white.
Emily had her own comments to make.  “She’s an angel, Mommy.  She’s beautiful!”  She trotted back over again to say, “I love you, Angel.”
The family turned their attention to the invitation books and I continued to chase Emily around the store while my friends discussed the exorbitant prices with the consultant. Finally, we were finished and I retrieved Emily from the men’s dressing rooms for the twentieth time, holding tightly to her 30 lb., wriggling body as she cried to get down.
The mother of the teen-aged bride stopped me.  She put her hand on my arm as she asked, “Is she your only child?”
“So far,” I answered.
“Well,” she said, looking at me so intently that I could see the tears swimming in her eyes, “You enjoy her, you love her, you hold on to her, because,” and she glanced across the room to her own daughter,“before you know it, she’ll be gone.”
I patted this woman, twenty years my senior and a stranger to me, on the arm, and the tears for that rose in my own eyes were both for her and for me, were tears for the pain of parting that all mothers of little girls must feel when their precious babies grow up and become women themselves.
I held my struggling bundle closer as we left the store and when one of my friends asked what the woman had said I replied through my tears, “It was a mother thing.”
Emily is 19 now and left us in August to go to college over 500 miles away.  I remember when she was a newborn baby I used to hear a country song on the radio about a mother helping her daughter get ready to leave for college and I would start to cry thinking about my baby girl growing up and leaving home.  Happily, Emily still seems to like coming home and will be here very soon for the whole summer! [edit: Emily graduated and came back home to live.]

Have you ever shared a touching moment with a stranger?  Do you dread the day your kids leave home?  Or are you secretly looking forward to it?
emily now

0 thoughts on “She'll Be Gone

  1. Helga

    My kids left home 15 years ago. I can hardly remember how it was when they were still here! Thank God for Mike or I would be a lonely camper….

  2. I dread the day already and my son is only 3. I wonder what I’ll do with myself and worry that nothing will ever be as fulfilling. But the thing is, even when they’re gone, they remain our babies and continue to amaze us with their awesomeness.

    1. You’ll find plenty to occupy your time, I promise you that! And having adult kids is an adventure itself. It’s trite but there is a reason that they say “It goes so fast.” Emily graduates from college in one month. It does not seem like 20 years have gone by since this story took place.

  3. I remember being told over and over by elderly women at the grocery store to “enjoy it” when my boys were little. I was enjoying it, so I always wondered why they felt compelled to say it. Did I not look as happy as I felt? Now, I understand.
    (I came from A Mother’s Life link up – so glad I did!)

    1. “The days are long but the years are short” is the best way I’ve heard it expressed. I wish I could go back and enjoy those days some more. Thank you so much for coming by!

  4. Melissa@Home on Deranged

    I was just saying today that I’m already worried about missing my girls when they go to preschool in two or three years. And my baby is named Emily, so then I really wanted to cry. Love them and let them love you. I still miss my mom every single day.
    Coming in from the Hump Day Hook Up

  5. normaleverydaylifeblog

    We’re taking our oldest to college for the first time this week. It’s a sad time, but full of excitement for her at the same time. There’s a movie reel of her life running in my head and all the special moments are there. So hard to make such a major change in parenting! #turnituptuesday

    1. Let me start by reassuring you that it will get better, and homecomings are wonderful! My daughter is 23 now, out of college, and living back with us for the time being–but my second son is in school and we will be saying good by to him again next week. Best wishes to you and your daughter!

  6. Pingback: Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival | Life in Every Limb

  7. I have one who is in college; on who is handicapped and will probably never move out and one in grade school. I miss my college girl but I am so proud of the woman she is becoming.

    1. It’s kind of funny but the one this is written about has already graduated from college and moved back home! So I have one who is away right now and another “big kid” who prefers to go to school locally, so he’s at home. Plus the two “little kids” who have years before they will go anywhere. 🙂

  8. When my first one was a newborn, I was told to cherish every moment because he’d be out of the house in a blink of an eye. Well, a blink of an eye later, he’s 19 and this post made me cry!!

    1. That first separation is pretty hard too! I remember Emily’s first day of kindergarten. She came home in tears because they wouldn’t let her bring her crayons home from school.

  9. liferedesign101

    This is so touching! My daughters are in their 20’s now. Sometimes it feels like yesterday they were little. Time does go by quickly. It is such a cliché and we heard it all the time when they were little but it is true! We have weddings to look forward to now. Each age has its special things.

    1. I know that I got tired of hearing it back then but now I do wish I could go back and relive those days. “The days are long but the years are short” is the best way I’ve heard it expressed.

    1. I don’t feel sad about them leaving exactly at this point . . . but I do feel sad about them not being little anymore. I don’t want these big people living here forever, but I wish I could have my little kids back!

  10. My oldest are 22 and 18 years old away at college , my little one is % years old it makes me sad to think one day he will move away to go to college like his brother and sister!

    1. I think that might be harder with such a big age gap. You had a little rest there! I feel like I’ve been running a marathon for a long long time! (My biggest gap is 6 years.)

  11. I am dreading it too! My oldest has got four years or so to go, but I’m still trying to get used to him towering over me. In my mind he’s still tiny 🙂

    1. Oh, it was every bit as hard sending my son off to college! Maybe even a little harder, because I felt that I really was losing him forever and I didn’t feel that way about my daughter.

  12. I am crying…no,I am sobbing over here. I get very sentimental about my daughter growing up. I really enjoyed this heart-warming story. Thank you for sharing this moment of your life with us. I don’t want my daughter to go to kindergarten much less get married. When she goes to college (if far) I always joke that I am going to move right nearby. (joke…kind of)
    That was such a precious moment you shared with us. Thank you!

  13. mamacarmody

    My babies are 29 and 25 this year. Now they are having babies. Warning! Grand-babies grow up faster than your own babies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.