When the last child leaves home

What does one make of this time?
A time filled to the very edge
with emotions almost unbearable.
At first taste, sadness.
But then again joy,
and pride and fulfillment.
Yes, it is our son
who is leaving this time –
the youngest,
the last to go,
farther away than the first.
But in the symbol of the leaving
is also the daughter, the first.
For something deeply significant happens
this time around
for mother and father –
the close of a chapter
never to be repeated.
And we stand in awe
of what, or rather, who
has come to be.
For we, husband and wife, have loved
out of a oneness
that we have been destined to live.
And out of that oneness
has blossomed life
that in this strange mystery
that we are all part of,
has shared deeply in our union
and yet has always been meant
to branch off
into something uniquely awesome,
to find its own magic
and mystery
and beauty.

As we look upon the two of you,
as we willingly share you
with others
beyond the womb of home,
we ache to have you understand
your significance
for us and within us.
The heaviness in our hearts at this time
is a mere fraction
of the weight of our love for each of you.
It is a bursting of pride
in who you have become.
It is the fullness of our blessing
with which we christen this new chapter
that now begins in earnest.
Looking upon the two of you
we can say to ourselves, “Well done!”

And to you, our dear children,
friends and companions for ever, we say:
seek your unique meanings
with respect for,
but with freedom from, the past;
be forgiving of yourself and those of us you love;
do not expect perfection but
in gentleness call forth the good and the true;
share your blessedness
with all who enter your destiny;
do not give up your search
for the fullness of God;
and continue to drink
from the wellspring of love.

© 1998 Dennis Ference