It seems for an entire year I have been grappling with the reality that my oldest, Emerson, is leaving. Indeed, tonight is his last night left under this roof until he moves to a new world in a new state in a new city, hours from home. For the past year I have mourned every last as his senior year unfolded – the last convocation, last performance, last Chapel, last dance. I have cried countless tears. Yet I have been giddy with excitement for his emerging chapter and know with utmost certainty he will thrive in college. I struggle with trying to remember another time in which I have been simultaneously bereaved and overjoyed during the same season, sometimes the same second. It is every maternal emotion converging as I prepare myself to let him go.
We love looking to eagles as metaphors. The school Emerson attended from kindergarten through graduation has an eagle for a mascot. In the Bible, Isaiah 40:31 tells us
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Eagles are noble creatures. They are strong and fierce. They fly above the storm. When their little ones are reluctant to leave the nest they will stir it up. They take away the soft coating and leave twigs sticking out. It must be more uncomfortable for the babies to stay before they will leave. Those babies were not meant to live in the nest. Indeed, they were born to soar.
The word soar is defined as: to fly high in the air; to increase rapidly above the usual level. It necessarily requires a dramatic change. For the last year I have been thinking about Emerson soaring away from me and it breaks my heart. I have searched desperately to find how my child leaving my house is a good thing for me. I know all the reasons it is the best thing for him. In my imagination, I am watching him from the ground as he flies away. Just this morning it occurred to me that my image is faulty. I am not on the ground. I fly still.
As mothers I think we forget sometimes that we have wings purposed for our own use. So much of our time in flight is dedicated to the growth of our children and I believe it should be. Then the day comes when they need us to fly for them less…and less…and less but our wings still long to.
After all, my wings still work. I still yet have the opportunity to soar. Perhaps in the flying he and I will enjoy new ways of embracing our world. Our environment will go from a nest to the entire world. We will both grow. We will both experience a rapid change in level , upward. We will fly, at times, in tandem. We will begin to see the world from the same altitude. He will see things I have told him of but he could only imagine because from his vantage point they simply were not visible.
This is the answer to my prayer and my grieving heart. My child is not leaving me. He is learning to fly with and around me. And though life may have him fly further from the nest than I would like, he will be flying.
So, dear son, fly…let your heart soar as high as it will.
So will I.