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The heartbreak of really letting go

Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy  August 29, 2012 08:10 AM

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Thumbnail image for zack at airport.jpgI am a bit of a mess this morning.

I just put my son on a plane to China. Well, I put him on a plane to Newark, but from there he is headed to Beijing for a semester. 

I am trying really hard not to cry.

It's not so much about missing him. I mean, I'll miss him (I already do), but I'm used to missing Zack. We haven't seen much of him since he left for college a couple of years ago. He has done service projects on spring breaks, and spent this summer doing an internship in DC. And truth be told, he has a way of getting on our nerves when he's around for more than a few days (this is common with 20-year-olds), so we've been mostly okay with him being away.

But not this far away.

That's the thing. He is going to be half a world away. I can't get to him quickly if there is a problem. I don't speak the language of the place where he'll be. I don't know the culture. I don't know anybody there. I know, he can call or email me, but I am going to be really limited in what I can do to help.

I can't take care of him there. He really has to take care of himself.

It's not that I don't think he's capable. Zack is a very capable young man. He's bright, independent and resourceful. He doesn't need my help all that often...but being able to help has been important to me.

I love him more than I will ever be able to tell him or show him. He is unspeakably precious to me, and I would give my life for him in a heartbeat. That his well-being and safety is up to him and to others I don't know is heartbreaking.

It's so hard. From the first time you hold your child in your arms, they become part of you in inexplicable, wonderful and sometimes painful ways; you are never the same. And when they leave, they take part of your heart with them.




This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About MD Mama

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »

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