I walk through the door after a long day of work. I take a look around the house and something feels off. There is a tightness in my chest. At first I don’t notice it- there is just a small tinge of weirdness. I shrug my shoulder and take a deep breath.
I help the kids with their homework and start cooking dinner. The house seems quiet. I decided to embrace the silence.
I go to bed tense but totally exhausted. The tightness has a stronger grip on me. I take a few shallow breaths trying to get it to go away. Soon, I drift into restless sleep.
This same pattern continues for a few days, but the tightness is deepening. At one point, I’m cooking dinner and decide that my lungs must be experiencing the asthma again, so I grab the inhaler. I cough a little after breathing the chemical in and then I continue to cook. The silence in the home is louder today.
A few days later and the silence is noticeably loud. In fact, I think it’s yelling at me. The tightness in my chest feels like I may possibly have an infection. Breathing is deep, however, somehow feels like a different type of labored. Sleep eludes me.
Approximately a week later. The silence is screaming at me. So loud, I feel a headache coming on. I decide pizza or fast food is the best bet for this day. My breathing is labored and has gradually gotten worse. There is a lump in my throat that is growing. I question if I am coming down with something fierce. I check my temperature. It reads 97.9.
A week later- there is an undeniable pain in my chest. I start to wonder if I’m having heart troubles. The silence is so loud that I can’t bear to be in the room. I try to mute it out. My family appears unaffected, but I can hardly hear anything. I go to bed early hoping to block it out.
A few days pass and the lump in my throat explodes. For whatever reason, it cannot hold on any longer. I hoped this wouldn’t happen. The tears pour down my face as the silence echoes through my home. I begin to sob. The pain in my heart is fierce. I know that this is a part of life. I know that this is a good thing. I also know that the kid I’ve raised for the last 17 years is leaving. I did my job and it hurts. I long for the years. I long to erase the days I spent working, I long to fix mistakes I’ve made in the past, I long to make her food, pinch her ears, bite her toes, give her baths, play makeup, take her to the zoo, take her to different shows; I long for all of it. Every last second. I want a redo. I want to start fresh. I will take the pains of labor multiplied by 100 to experience this kid as a child all over again.
I remember her first step, her first word, the puke in the middle of the night, the fear of the floor buffer, the hope of seeing her uncles, the excitement to go on road trips, the curiosity regarding God, the crawling into my bed in the middle of the night. Everything. I remember all of it.
I feel conflicted. I know she’s an amazing kid and is going to be an amazing adult. However, she’s my kid and I like her safe and at home. Here, a place where I can watch her, protect her, talk to her, pull her hair, and throw random food into her mouth. However, I know that I need to share her with the world. I need to allow her to experience life. I need to watch her go and then be there for her when she doesn’t know how to cook the meat until it’s done without drying it out.
I feel the lump in my throat and swallow hard. I feel the pain in my chest and take a deep breath. I hear the silence screaming my name. I deal with all of this, knowing it’s the right thing to do, but realizing that the right thing isn’t always pain free.