When I gave birth (excuse this tangent so early in the post, but I've always loved that expression "giving birth") to my first child, the physical pain was beyond belief. A first birth, an excessively long labor, an inexperienced medical resident with an, ahem... unsophisticated bedside manner and insufficient drugs combined to create a nightmare of a delivery. So when this child left my body, it was painful.
But it was physical pain and I pretty much knew to expect that.
Yesterday, we sent that baby, now a sensitive and beautiful young woman, off to Israel to learn Torah for the year. Why don't parents tell each other how painful that separation is going to be? I was completely blind-sided by the intensity of the experience.
And, just like when we're in a cab traveling from our apartment to Ben Gurion airport because it's time to leave Israel yet again, I spent much emotional energy trying not to wail. The night before she left, her last night in our home, I didn't want her to hear me. In the airport, after my husband and I gave her a bracha and a final hug, I didn't want to embarrass myself (or her) in public. And last night, after we returned from the airport and I walked past the open door to her (now mostly empty) room, I didn't want our younger child to hear me.
I need an hour alone out in a forest somewhere.
Of course, there is much to be joyous about in this stage, and eventually, those things will rise to the surface. But for now, I'm grieving the end of an era, the end of actively parenting this child, of living with her on a daily basis.
If she loves Israel as much as I hope she will, any additional time she may spend under our American roof, she'll only be counting the days until she can get back Home.
Like mother, like daughter.