He was my first born. He was my baby. He was so incredibly bright, sweet and unique. He was 19 years old.
There's nothing that could have prepared me for this day or kept it from hurting. I just wasn't ready. But he was. So I helped him move.

After 19 years of knowing where he was all the time; knowing if he'd eaten; knowing if he had clean clothes to wear, how could I leave him alone? I felt like I wasn't going to be a mother anymore. How could I stil be his mother when he was so far away?

This is it, I felt. I have one more day to do it all. There isn't enough time!

I panicked. Had Isaid everything I meant to? What if I'd missed something really important? What if he forgot and I wasn't there to remind him?

I wanted to hold him n my lap and rock him. I wanted to hum the lullaby I'd hummed so many, many times. I wanted to rad all his favorite books over and over. I wanted to sew the tail back on his stuffed lion like he'd asked me to so long ago and I had forgotten.

But, instead, I helped him unpack. I put dishes in his cabinet, food in his pantry and organized his kitchen. I put candles in their holders, hung the skull on the wall and helped him alphabetize his CD's.

I went to bed that night knowing that went I left the next morning everything would change. I experienced such pain. Pain that I would not have thought I could bear it. It felt as though my heart was being ripped out. And yet, I had a desire to pull my heart out and give it to my son.

I couldn't sleep. I got out of bed trying not to wake anyone in the one room apartment. I was tip-toeing across the room and heard a soft "Mom?" He couldn't sleep either. Finding the closet the only place to go and not disturb anyone sleeping, we gathered pillows and candles and quietly went in there.

We stayed there in the closet a long time talking. I told him I was afraid that I hadn't prepared him well enough, and that I
wasn't ready to let him go. He told me that he was terrrified but needed to do this. We talked about music and movies. We
remembered family stories. We budgeted his money and talked about job possibilities and where to shop.

What he knew but I didn't say, was that I knew he'd be okay without me, but I didn't want him to. What I knew but he didn't say was that I had always given hi my trust and that's all he needed to be okay without me.

During those candlelit hours, cuddled in pillows on that closet floor, my son and I shared possibly the most meaningful time of our lives. We came together as mother and child, then we let each other go.

Author's Bio: 

Beth Rittenhouse
is a mother of two and occupational therapist.  She is currently writing and doing web page design.