Published on 9/12/2021
The Lord Gives Peace
Four days after the "September 11" terrorist attacks in 2001, James and I drove our son to college. In order to arrive the campus early on move-in day, we spent the night at a friend's house nearby. Unexpectedly, even though we arrived pretty early, there were already fleets of cars and vans with incoming students around the dormitory area. We had to line up obediently and wait for the moving service provided by the upper classmen.
Through the winding paths we arrived at the dormitories. The moving team effectively moved our son's luggage into the suite upstairs to the place where our son would live with five other guys. He took the initiative to greet people graciously. I felt relieved watching him initiating interaction with ease. The older brother of one of his roommates noticed his cross necklace and asked whether he was a Christian. They had a good conversation and quickly exchanged phone numbers.
Our son installed his computer with lightning speed and confirmed that everything was working properly. When I was still making his bed, father and son both sent and received emails on the Internet. Sitting at his desk with his hands behind his head, our son looked at the scenery outside the window and proclaimed, "This place is like a palace." Without wasting any time, James declared, "Time to go." Although I was caught off guard, I was able to replied quickly, "Let's go to the bookstore and help buy his text books."
Flooded with sadness of separation, it was hard to suppress the ups and downs in my heart. All I could do was to slow down, pretending I was enjoying the beautiful campus. I took many photos just to delay the inevitable. When we arrived at the bookstore, our son was quick to find his textbooks and lined up to pay with his credit card. Part of me was so proud of him, but part of me had a trace of reluctance. How did he grow up so fast? When we stepped out of the bookstore, James said again, "Time to go." Although I felt incredulous, I pretended to be calm. I looked at my watch and came up with a new idea, "Hey, it's almost noon. Let's have lunch and stay with him for two more hours." They didn't object, but we were strangely silent on the way to the dining hall.
As we were walking, I had many questions in my mind, "Why are they so eager to separate? Other children are reluctant to let their parents go home. Does my son no longer love me? Why doesn't my husband support me?" Suddenly, I thought of "September 11" with news reporting possibilities of additional terrorist attacks. I thought about never seeing my mom again after I came to the United States for college because she died of heart failure two years later. What if...? I had so many mixed feelings, and I couldn't help but feeling sad.
While lining up for food in the dining hall, our son suddenly asked, "Mom, are there tears in your eyes?" It was then that I had to talk about the various struggles and feelings in my heart, e.g. anger, disappointment, sadness, anxiety, and fear ... Thank God that both father and son listened and nodded. They understood and accepted my thoughts and feelings! It turned out that they were also reluctant to part ways, but were hoping to relieve the tension and shorten the pain!
After lunch, I suggested, "Let's take some more pictures on campus, and mom will go home in two hours." They both burst into laughter, knowing that I was delaying on purpose. When James took the final picture, our almost six-foot-tall son put his arm around my shoulder. The tears in my eyes and the smile on my face were a bittersweet proof of a mother sending her son to college.
It was almost midnight when we arrived home. Our son had already sent us an email, "Dear Mom and Dad, thank you for sending me to college. I'm fine, don't worry, the friend I met today will pick me up for church tomorrow morning. Good night. Love you!"
"People have sorrows and joys, departure and reunion. The moon has cloudy, sunny, round and lack." These verses by Poet Su Dongpo describe the gathering and separation of lives, but Jesus is our protection at any time, and He gives us peace. Jesus said to 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)
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Winnis Chiang, LMFT and founder of ParentingABC.com, is passionate about helping Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and positively influence their American born children.