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So Far Away: College Decisions

I don’t usually cry at songs. No, it was my dear sweet husband who cried at our wedding when they sang Houston’s Greatest Love of All - and when the late Othello Pumphrey sang God Bless America - and even sometimes when he hears a moving rendition of Amazing Grace.

I am more of a commercial/movie crier. You know the type who squeezes back the tears when Hallmark runs some sappy card ad - or when Po’s mother is killed in Kung Fu Panda - or every time the baby’s head crowns on A Baby Story? That’s when my older two are punching me in the arm interrogating, “Mom, you aren’t crying are you?!”

So I was caught off guard this past week when I heard Carol King’s hit So Far Away. I had just dropped off the last child at school and was stopped at the light at Albany and Tates Creek mulling over my oldest’s college choices (we are down to two from fourteen).

The same internal conversation had been playing over and over in my head lately and it was playing again that morning: “You must support but not guide; you must share facts but not opinion; you must stand back and let it be, whatever it will be.”

So apparently I can comment to her on the pros and cons of each program. I can let her lean on me during the airplane ride home from an especially far off college visit and tell her it will all be okay. But I cannot share my heart and what is churning through it: The melancholy circumstances of her leaving our home, of dropping her off at some big dorm someday soon, of perhaps not even being able to drive up – or down – to have lunch with her on a moment’s notice. Because those things are about me, and not about her, and this decision is for her, not me.

I had not planned on letting this all bother me really. Two years ago when she was still busy being a teenager and pushing back on almost any form of mothering, she was so independent I didn’t even comprehend what was about to hit me. She was so self-determined; dropping her off at college at that point in time would have seemed more like dropping off the child of a friend rather than my own sweet-first-born.

But then the college process, which she had been pursuing since her freshman year by almost willing the four years of high school over and done with, pursued her back. And she began to retreat into our familial nest. And like any mother I drew her close under my wing and we became two peas in a pod once again.

So it was this mama pea in her cozy pod, this mother bird roosting in her nest that was sideswiped by Bob Edwards’s interview with Carol King. My preoccupied mind was only been half focused on their discussion about her songwriting. But my heart’s ears dialed in as Edwards cut to a clip of So Far Away. I sat in my car, at that light, listening to her sing:

So far away; doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more?

It would be so fine to see your face at my door;

Doesn't help to know you're just time away;

Long ago I reached for you and there you stood;

Holding you again could only do me good;

How I wish I could, but you're so far away



One more song about movin' along the highway;

Can't say much of anything that's new;

If I could only work this life out my way;

I'd rather spend it bein' close to you…

And the tears welled up in my eyes and dripped down onto my steering wheel.

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