When one goodbye is not enough

I delivered the extra goodbye this week.

It was my honor and my responsibility.

Like thousands of parents around the country, my husband and I dropped our daughter off at college for the first time.

I’ll confess there were plenty of early cries in the week preceding,

And on the drive up.

“These are happy tears,” I assured Daughter.

She kinda sorta believed me.

Really, they were. Well, that is, until Husband and I left.

As we walked out of the dorm where Daughter will live the next nine months,

Then, came the flood.

The flood of gratitude.

“I got to do that? I got to be someone’s mom?” I marveled as this dream-come-true had been just that.

A dream.

For the millionth time, I thought of the person who made this possible.

Husband, yes.

And, there is the woman I will never meet.

My daughter’s first mom. The one who passed away when our daughter was 8.

Yes, ours.

His, hers and ultimately mine.

I had read somewhere that these freshman drop-off goodbyes can be messy, overwhelming, rushed and cranky.

“Better to write down what you want to say ahead of time and leave it in a card.”


As my daughter had her back turned posting photos of her friends, arranging necklaces — you know, the most important stuff for college success — I tucked the cards behind the stash of pillows at the head of her new bed.

One card I wrote from Husband and me.

The other for her first mom.

I do not presume to know what she would say to our Daughter at that moment.

I figured that wasn’t the point.

Rather, that Daughter know she was there.

All too soon came time for the final hug — the final goodbye.

It was hard, though, I suspect, not as hard as it is for many parents.

I’ve known since Day One what all mothers must eventually learn.

This daughter is not mine, not all mine, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m sure I couldn’t love or annoy her more had I given birth to her.

It’s just when you come to motherhood through adoption, there’s a greater awareness a child, any child, comes through your life, but is not ultimately yours.

Shared DNA or not.

That might’ve been enough to put a stop to my ugly, sobby cry as Husband and I drove off.

But it was not.

But it was a reminder.

My goodbye wasn’t an iota of the goodbye Daughter’s first mom had to give 10 years ago.

We each must let her go.

And we will continue our journey as she continues hers.

Oh, the people she will meet.

Oh, the people who will love her more than I can imagine.

That is what we mothers think of, wish for and pray form as we let our children go.

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