Friday, August 17, 2018

Slipping Through My Fingers

Sarah left home this morning. I got up at 1:15 to say good-by. She said, “It doesn’t feel like I’m moving out. It feels like I’m going on a little trip.”

“To me, it feels like you’re moving out,” I said.

I’ve known for months that Sarah was moving this August for graduate school. But the last week, I still sometimes had a shock, and my heart pinched a little sharper every day, when I thought about her not being in my home any more.

Her last day of work was two weeks ago, so especially for the last couple weeks, she’s been working like crazy. She’s gone shopping for school clothes and supplies and the growing number of things she needs for her apartment.

She’s been making phone calls and filling out paperwork—mostly on the computer—to get everything set up for the apartment, insurance, school fees, medical insurance. She’s gone through most of her possessions in the house here, dividing things between throw-away, give-away, keep stored here, and take with her. And then there’s laundry, packing, and...

She ran around the house, moving from one job to another, and I enjoyed when she stop to talk to me about what she was doing.

For the last four years, at least three of my five children have still lived at home, though they are adults and have jobs. But now Sarah is moving away to attend graduate school in Library and Information Science.

I know I will survive this. Rebecca moved away four years ago to another state. Benjamin moved into his own apartment a year ago. And although I miss them, I’m not sad about not seeing them every day.

But I tell Sarah god gave me an extra gift since she moved back here after college. I love the memories of my children when they were little. But for the last four years, I have been able to have her close to me as an adult.

So many fun and wonderful things to remember.

There is a heater vent on the wall between the stairs and Sarah’s room. Often, as I climbed the stairs, I’d talk to her through it, and she was kind enough to answer me.

One July afternoon, Sarah spent several hours in the attic, separating clothes and books and such to take with her when she moved to Wisconsin. When she came downstairs she asked me if I wanted to touch her face. I said sure. I figured she’d found a mask or some other silly thing she’d put on her face. But she laid my hand on her forehead, covered thick with sweat. She said, “I have to take a shower.” As she was going upstairs, she stopped and said to me, “And if you ever put my hand on your sweaty face, I’ll kill you.”

I loved when she’d just sit and talk to me—about work, about her journey to start graduate school, about books she read, about the current season of “the Voice.”

When Sarah first moved home, she read several long books to me. We’ve attended movies. She’s helped me order surprise gifts for Murray.

When Benjamin moved into his own apartment last year, wanting to be a part of his new experience, I made a list of everything I could think of he’d need to buy. From disinfectant wipes to a toilet plunger; from a table and chairs to nail clippers; from a spatula and can opener to scissors and pillow cases; from toilet paper to adapted equipment like labeling dots and a liquid level indicator.

When Sarah saw the list she said, “I like this. I’m going to use it when I get my own apartment.” I believe she did look at it again now as she’s been shopping, and I’ve made her show me almost everything she bought.

As the days drew close, I was amazed by the idea of her not being a part of our home anymore. We have Caleb and Ping-Hwei for now. Ping-Hwei, who constantly makes us laugh. And Caleb, who often sits and chats with me before he leaves for work or when he gets home. For whatever time God gives me with them, I am thankful.

A couple months ago, I asked Sarah if we could go to one more movie together before she left. She asked if I’d ever seen “Mamma Mia.” I hadn’t

She said the second one, “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again,” was coming out this summer, and before we went to see it, we should watch the first one together.

We did, as part of a lovely Fourth of July celebration.

Both movies were truly a good mother-daughter story. In the first, I found an Abba song I’d never heard before, “Slipping through My Fingers,” about a mother watching her little girl grow up, moving further from her as the mother tried to hang on. Of the two movies, this song most touched my heart.

Loading the truck last night was quite an adventure. At the end, they were happy to count only four things Sarah had to leave behind. Before Sarah and Murray drove away this morning, she gave me a couple of long hugs. “I’ll probably call you a lot with cooking questions,” she said.

Oh, please do.

Slipping through my fingers. I won’t try to hang on. I want her to find new dreams. But it will take a while to get used to not hearing this young woman’s voice in my home every day.


  1. Hi Kathy,
    Such a touching post! I'm sure my mother felt that way about me as I traveled to West Virginia and then to Oklahoma for college and then halfway across the world again and again. I always regrouped at home, and there was such laughter in the house! Mom was never one to share her feelings but I do believe she missed me tremendously. I don't think there is an answer to that. I had to go. But I called her every week. The hardest time for us apart was when I was pregnant. Then when my mom passed away, she had to go. Boy do I miss her! I sure can identify with how she felt. Thanks for your heartfelt post. Love, Amy

  2. I'm sure that will be a rough adjustment. Pausing to pray for you both this morning!