Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Moving Day. The day most teens look forward to as they eagerly await their eighteenth birthday…the day of escape from the rules and boundaries they’ve not so secretly fought against during their high school years. While dreaming of a life without restrictions, thoughts often fall on the chance to explore the world, exercise personal responsibility and work through the ups and downs of pursuing dreams, but during the planning, no one ever thinks about what it would be like to return to the nest once this beloved freedom has been tested.

My own journey was much of the same although I’ve always been close to my family, and when it came time to leave home for college there was a mixture of excitement and sadness to be leaving my comfort zone. In addition to returning home for three of my four summers during college, there have been two other times in the past 6 years that I’ve had to rely on the generosity of my parents as they re-opened their home to me. Close to finishing my Masters degree, I relocated back to Northern California following eight years in Southern California and completed classes through independent study. Most recently, without hesitation, my parents offered their support when we learned I would be going through treatment for the cancer. To be honest, there have been challenges for the three of us as we have had to learn all over again how to live with one another. My parents did their best to treat me as an adult despite watching me struggle through some very important decisions, and when arguments would ensue, we all had to take a step back and realize that our emotions were extremely high due to the stress of the situation.

Once we settled into our routine, our focus solely became about getting me through treatment, and it became quite clear that there was no room for my need to be independent. My parents were so incredible as they drove me to all of my appointments, sat with me as I cried over my hair loss and took me to the beach when I was desperate for a change of scenery. They dropped everything twice when I required immediate attention at the ER for hives and again when I was admitted to the hospital for four days after a skin infection from radiation turned into a 2nd degree burn. They’ve cleaned up my vomit in the middle of the night when I couldn’t get to the restroom in time and administered food and medication through my feeding tube when I was too weary to do it myself. They exerted patience while I wrote on my whiteboard when I physically couldn’t speak and essentially put their entire life on hold for months, catering to my every need.

This week, after seven months, I moved in with a roommate, giving my parents their much-needed space to re-discover their new life as recent retirees. As I packed my car, I said goodbye to my folks who were on their way to the church where they often donate their time. My mom did her best to hold back the tears as I assured them I was only 45 minutes away and would see them often. I hopped in the car and headed down the road towards the new chapter in my quickly growing novel of life, completely surprised when the tears poured down my cheeks without warning. I surrendered my body to my ever-changing emotions and allowed myself the time to acknowledge another great change taking place. It was then that I realized, during all the hustle of the past months, my parents and I have gained a new relationship…one that grew during a very tragic but hopeful time…an experience that was the most difficult yet the most miracle filled time in our lives. I stopped by the church on my way out to see my parents one last time. I was so overwhelmed by all they had done for me and all that we had been through that I just broke out in sobs and gave them both a huge hug, describing my gratefulness for being there every step of the way. I held onto them as we wept together.

Based on my reaction, it’s quite clear to me that although my oncologist has recently pronounced my prognosis as excellent, I have yet to scratch the surface of the emotional trauma this caused me. I’m all moved into my new home. We’re all happy that I’m healthy enough to break out on my own again, but that same sadness I experienced my first day of college has returned. That same sweet sorrow…the near end of one chapter and the welcoming of another.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Harvey
    Sep 24, 2010 @ 18:23:40

    How blessed you all are to have each other. True life stories like yours should be published. Surely it would be a best seller! You are an incredible writer. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts. Prayers continue as your journey on to a new chapter in your life.


  2. Jill klontz
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 22:43:35

    okay so now I am SOBBING…the end.


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