"People have sorrow and joy; they part and meet again and again. The moon dims or shines; it waxes and wanes again and again." This quote by Su Dongpo reminds us the reality of life. On this day of the Autumn Moon Festival, I would like to share a real life experience many years ago.
Four days after the 911 terrorist attack in 2001, my husband James and I drove our son to college. We stayed at a friend's house on the way so that we could arrive at the campus early. Unexpectedly, there was already a long line of cars waiting for the "freshmen move-in" service provided by upperclassmen and we had to line up a few blocks away. Fortunately, the college juniors and seniors were strong, and the line moved fast. When our van reached the front of the line after two hours, some muscled guys unloaded all of our son’s belongings and placed them into huge canvas containers with wheels. With ease, they rolled the containers through winding pathways connecting different buildings. Before we knew it, our son's belongings arrived the upstairs suite where he would live for one year with five other guys.
I was relieved watching how our son took initiative to greet people and strike up conversations. We met a young man who was helping his younger brother to move in. When he noticed the cross on the homemade necklace our son was wearing, he asked, "Are you a Christian?" The two of them became friends and quickly exchanged phone numbers.
With lightning speed, our teenager set up his PC and made sure everything worked. While I was making his extra long bed, he and James took turn checking their e-mails. Sitting in front of his desk in his single room, our son put his hands behind his head, looked out the window, and proclaimed, "This place is like a palace."
Not wasting a moment, James said, "Time to go."
Caught by surprise, I uttered, "Let's check out the bookstore and help him buy his books."
Suppressing my feelings, I stopped by different attractions to take pictures, trying to appreciate the beautiful campus while we walked. But how I wanted to linger on!
I could not believe how fast our son found all his text books and paid for them with his credit card. I was proud of him but also felt regretful. Has my boy really grown up?
As soon as we left the bookstore, James said again, "Time to go."
I almost collapsed but still pretended to be calm. I glanced at my watch. "Hey, it's almost noon, let's have lunch. We can stay a couple more hours." They did not object, but we were all very quiet on the way to the cafeteria.
As we walked, I asked myself, "Why are they so eager to separate? My friends said their daughters were reluctant to let their parents go home. Doesn't my son love me anymore? Why doesn't my husband support me?"
Suddenly, I thought about 911 and the news that there might be more terrorist attacks. I have mixed feelings and thoughts. After I came to the United States for college, I never saw my mom again because she died of heart failure two years later at age 48. Mom had never seen her son-in-law and grandson. What if ... Thinking about all these things, I can’t help but feel sadder and sadder.
Waiting in line for food in the dining hall, my son suddenly asked: "Mom, are those tears in your eyes?"
I could not stop my tears when I poured out my heart. I was feeling angry, disappointed, sad, anxious, afraid, ... They both nodded as they listened. Thank God that they listened, understood, and accepted me! As it turned out, they also felt the sadness of separation. And that's why they longed for a quick departure to fix the pain!
After lunch I suggested, "Let's take more pictures on campus. Mom will be on her way in a couple of hours." They burst into laughter at my delay tactic. Two hours later, James took our final photo with our almost six-foot tall son wrapping his arm around my shoulders. The tears in my eyes and the smile on my face is the proof of my bittersweet experience.
When we arrived home late at night, an email was waiting for us: "Dear Mom and Dad, thank you for taking me to school. I am fine so don't worry. My new friend today will pick me up for church. Good night. Love you."
Jesus told His disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)