Saying Goodbye One More Time

27th February 2019

Last month my eldest child left home and if I pause too long to think about it my heart pounds so hard.  Too many emotions to process, like a swallow dipping and soaring through the sky.

How many countless times have I heard or repeated “it goes so fast’ ?  And yet it does.  No matter how slowly you think you lived it.  No matter how often you breathed in and enjoyed each moment.  No matter how present you felt at the time.

boy carrying surf board into the sea


If I stand still now and close my eyes, I see 19 years flash through my memory.  A highlight reel on fast forward.


boy gazing into distance


The squidgy baby thighs and the sleepy story times.  All those tree climbing, finger painting, den building, tickle monster best bits.  And all those goodbyes.  Nineteen years of practicing goodbye.  His small hand in mine at the nursery door.  That first brave wave in the school playground.  The awkward hug by the coach door as he set off on his first overnight school trip.  Each farewell a little less drawn out, his confidence growing.  The excitement of what lay ahead began to trump the feeling of separation. 

A lifetime of training in goodbyes.  A lifetime of preparing and practising.  Raising a child so that one day they will be ready to strike out into the world fully on their own.

I’ve had the privilege of watching him grow and learn.  Begin to carve his way in the world of grown ups.  I’ve seen him approach life with maturity and dignity.  Humour and compassion.


photographs scattered on a table


So now he’s off.  A year long apprenticeship several hundred miles away.  Entirely ready and loving every moment.  And of course I am filled with pride and joy.  I knew this moment would come and I of course I knew it was the right and proper way of things.  And of course I ache.  Because if I hold out my hand, stretch it out in the afternoon light and turn it slowly, I can still remember exactly the feeling of his small hand in mine.


Oh goodness Rebecca I shed a tear reading this, were never quite ready are we, even though they are x

It’s such a strange feeling to think that whole phase of parenting is over.

Beautiful photos and memories, and that must be such a bittersweet feeling! I think the older we get, the faster the years seem to fly by.

Rebecca this is such a beautiful piece of writing, you’ve captured it all perfectly. Tears in my eyes as I’m in just the same situation. I’ve wanted to write about it since September but every time I think of that forlorn little figure in a bright yellow coat I can’t quite begin…… xx

😭😭😭 Actual tears, Rebecca! I know so exactly how to feel and you have put it into words very beautifully. I hope every day that I’ve done a good enough job leading him to adulthood, guiding him to survive in the big wide world, equipping him with the emotions, life skills and general nouse to thrive on his own. But it’s very, very hard to cut loose those apron strings, isn’t it? xxx

Oh my goodness Rebecca, how beautifully written. You’ve brought a lump to my throat.

I often read the wonderful poem Walking Away by C Day Lewis, when thinking about my two boys, which ends “How selfhood begins with a walking away And love is proved in the letting go.”


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