To be perfectly honest, in the weeks leading up to it, I didn’t think about moving out of my parents’ house. I forgot it immediately if I did at all. I could say my mother thought about it enough for both of us, but it’s not like I was oblivious to what was going on, or its significance. It’s probably the most jarring change of my life so far, but it meant something completely different for me than it did for her and everyone else I knew at home.
So as I got in my car and drove out of the driveway, I wasn’t crying, but my sister was. She wasn’t there to actually see me, but I’d talked to her on the phone just before and told her I was going. She had to hang up and call back several times to get through it, but that was okay. My mother was standing there on the lawn, bawling her eyes out, and my dad was hugging her with one arm while he teared up himself, but stayed composed, probably for my sake as much as my mother’s. They were happy for me, but obviously that wasn’t why they were crying.
I waved and they waved and as they got just out of sight, I became sad as well, but not because I was leaving them. Like I said, I hardly thought about that at all. I was sad for them, sad they were sad, but not really sad myself. I was leaving to them, but in my mind I was going to college. I had spent the past weeks, and really my entire life, preparing for that day. Getting an education, getting the social skills to interact with people, learning and maturing enough to be able to survive independently. My life had prepared me for the time when I would go, and that meant that what I had lost mattered very little to me right then. All they could do was look back at what had been, but I was looking forward.
I was departing in their eyes, but from my perspective, I was finally arriving.
Cruel or morbid as this may sound, in a way, I was actually happy watching my parents cry there on the lawn. I said to myself, “God, I wish this is what my funeral is like.”
I mean that with the best intentions, really I do. Without applying the metaphor too broadly, I think moving away from the people you care about is a slice of your death that you actually get to witness and in a way where you can reciprocate their good-byes.
But just as the other, you’re gone and they’re left with everything in their lives the same, except that you’re gone. You get everything new and different and in many ways better, but they have the grief of a hole around them you used to fill. They’ve lost a loved one, and I think in a selfish way we all hope and pray that our actual deaths are the same way, but to a greater degree. We hope that we lived in such a way that people mourn our passing. We hope we had enough of an impact on the lives of the people around us that our passing is noticed. And we pray that when we leave this world, we arrive somewhere new and different and better. We pray that we’re only sad for other people, excited, though, for what’s to come, what we spent our whole lives preparing for.
As I drove away, I said to myself, “God, I wish this is what my funeral is like.” That’s my hope and prayer.