Wednesday, July 05, 2006

New life, sad heart

I should probably wait to write this post when I'm not so emotional. But that's what we writers create, isn't it? Emotion, the spiritual and mental heartbeats of our characters-the characters whom (hopefully) readers care about and root for. Today, I'm writing about my own emotions-feelings of sadness and pride and inevitablity, and even grief. This afternoon, my oldest child, my 23-year-old son Jim, left for Vienna, Austria. Not just a pleasure trip to Europe, but a move that could quite possibly be permanent. He's in love with a wonderful Austrian girl, whom he met when she was an exchange student at his college. She had to return home, Jim has completed his two degrees, and he's decided to go to Austria to be with her. He hopes to find a job teaching Enlish as a second language, and has very good odds of success, as there is supposedly a demand for native English speakers. Plus he's going to have a wonderful time there, stopping in London for a few days to visit a friend, vacationing in Italy with his girlfriend and her family. He plans to travel and see the world. What opportunity! What fun! And oh, to experience young love again!

So I'm also feeling wistfulness, wishing I could go explore the world. And I'm feeling old (and overweight, and staring at gray hair roots), and I know a part of my life is over. I'm not really Mom any more. Yeah, I'll always be Jim's mother, but I won't ever again be a main player. And our house is no longer his house. As long as he was four hours away in Austin, I knew he would come home for holidays, and we could always go down there to see him. He still had his room at "home". But this weekend, we cleaned out his room, and his closet, and his chest. He packed up books to give away, cleared out a large part of his life. Some of his clothes and books remain, but I suspect they'll go in the next "pass", and then all traces of it being his room will be gone forever.

Even though I know life will go on, I feel bereft, empty, and even without purpose. Regrets, too, that I didn't do more as a mother, make more memories, take more pictures, capture more special moments, etc. There's a sadness in knowing I can never go back, can never reclaim lost opportunities. And a fear that maybe I'm getting too old to have more opportunities, that my best years are gone. Empty Nest Syndrome-big time. I know a lot of these feelings will pass, and that I'm moving on to a new phase in my life, but I'm not sure what the new me wants to do. Or if I'll have the energy and the creativity and the excitement that I had when I was younger.

But I can't give up, can I? I have a lot of good years left (so I keep telling myself). Getting better with age, right? Still, I'll grieve for that part of my life that's gone, and my heart will ache for a while. I'll indulge myself in chocolate and wine, before I get back on the diet (those 10 pounds just won't go away). And back to the exercise (geez, get a little older, and the body falls apart). And I'll resolve to make the remaining years count, to try to live them to the fullest and savor life. I'll try to regularly use my favorite Hebrew phrase: L'Chiam - To Life!

And you know . . . I think I might just keep on writing. Creating characters, stories, emotions. I've got lots of fodder for the emotional part!

~ Catherine


Heather Waters said...

Ah Catherine! Take a deep breath and think of the opportunities YOU'VE just been handed...not just your son. For the first time in 23 years, you're going to have just a tad more time to spend on YOURSELF!

I just had my own (sniff) moment. Not quite as harsh, but an eye-opener just the same. My oldest child just turned 10. To me, that made me feel fat, old, and boring. Double digits!!!!!! Holy crap. She was just born yesterday!!!!!!!!!! But to have your baby move to another country... have a glass of wine, buy a bottle of Clarol, and curl up with a good book..then think about all the cool stuff he can send you from Europe! LOL

Anonymous said...

Catherine, this is a chance for you to go to France to visit him and see Europe along the way. :) So here's a wish that your empty nest feeling will soon pass and you big travel adventures start to perk in your head.
Many blessings, I have enjoyed your books so much. I think I have read all of them.

Catherine Spangler said...

Heather and Andrea, thank you so much for your warm and supportive responses to my emotional outpouring. I'm already feeling better, thank you. And yes, Andrea, we're definitely planning a trip to Europe. Heather, LOL on the ten-year-old becoming more independent. It happens!

Hugs to you both,


Kristen Painter said...

Cathy, take comfort in the fact that you raised such a fabulous man.

I can imagine this is a tough time for you, lots of things in flux, feelings that have to be dealt with...but you're right to "save" them for a book.

Chin up! You have a fabulous new series coming out (and a book cover that could melt the Snow Queen) and so much to look forward to!

If you were going to Atlanta, I'd buy you a drink and cheer you up.


Cathie said...

Catherine, first, I'm sending a hug. My daughter is 20 and just got her driver's license and I feel that letting go of her little by little. So i do understand your feelings. One thing to remember. You're not alone. Yes your feelings and all are yours and unique, but remember your friends will always be there for you to talk, to do some fun, and other things to help you through this. And other times we'll leave you alone and let you go through the process but we will always be right there when you call our name. Hugs. Cathie

Catherine Spangler said...

Kristen and Cathie, thank you for your comforting and wise words. It really does make a difference to know that others care about my "emotional upheavals" and take the time to write. It's much appreciated! Kristen, please have *lots* of drinks in Atlanta on my behalf--LOL! Cathie, hope to hear from you again.