I hate today.  I usually wake up pre-alarm, happy, smiling, and ready to take on the day, but today was not like that.  Today I was crying before I even thought about the act of it, before I thought about the reason I would undoubtedly be crying again just like I have been every day for the last week.

And I am not a crier.

Today is the last day of July, the last day of the last month that my daughter will ever live with me.  I’ve lived with a lot a stuff, without a lot of stuff, and through a lot of stuff.  But somehow this feels as if the day she leaves I will somehow stop living altogether.

I know – you’re probably thinking I’m one of those Moms who helicopters or even worse – Dina Lohan’s with her kid.  Not even close, unless letting your only child who happens to be all worldly and “adult”-like since a calendar day flipped to the 23rd back in February do things like drive to a train station, hop it to Chicago and attend Lollapalooza equals hovering.

Rather, I have raised her to be independent.  How could I not?  That’s the question my friends and family have been asking me when this topic inevitably enters into our conversations like the proverbial elephant on the phone line.  You are the most independent person I’ve ever known; you’ve always been like that; how can Liv not be the same way?

Well maybe if I did a better job of raising her she would actually want to be around me.  That’s what I usually think, silently, in response.  Oh sure, there are lots of textbook answers as to why she has barely been speaking to me all summer.  In no particular order:

1.        It’s normal

2.        You’d hate it if she wanted to be around you ALL the time and she had no friends

3.        This is her way of asserting herself

4.        She needs to do this so she knows she can be on her own

5.        It will make the transition when she leaves much easier

On and on the list continues.  Easier?  Easier??  Nothing in my life that I have been unable to stop from happening has hurt this much.  Nothing.  Not cancer, not divorce, not mile 19 of a marathon. 

Some of those things were planned, some were not.  Some were foreseen, some were unseen, and some were just plain stupid “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME THAT THIS IS HAPPENING?” moments in my life.  Yet they all pale in comparison.

With those things, I always had a plan.  Even in the eye of those storms, I knew how I was going to get out.  I knew it would all be over soon and I knew where I was going to end up.  I was always determined that I would make it to the end, pick myself back up and keep on trucking. 

Sure, in some cases I would be emaciated and bald, I would be out relationships, a house, some money and self-esteem, or in self-induced-trying-to-get-through-such-times, I would be out some toenails, some skin, and mostly my mind.  But yet I always knew.

I don’t know anything right now.  I know absolutely nothing other than I have known for eighteen years that this time was coming.  Knowing is stupid.  Knowinghasn’t helped me plan to feel this level of hurt.  This level of loss.

Somewhere on the endless list of reasons as to why this is all going to be ok, is number whatever:  She will come back.  It will be even better.

It’s hard imagining anything better than what has been the greatest blessing in my life.  She is the one thing I got right, the one thing I’ve never questioned.  Letting her go seems insurmountable.

That girl saved me.  She’s saved me from selfishness, from (additional) bad decisions, from the mundane, from myself.  With all the decisions and problems and fears and craziness we deal with day in and day out, over and over again every day until we are ready to throw in the towel and revert back to our own youth when the unknown seemed like hope instead of punishment – our kids are our lifesavers.

They keep us resolute and pull us back to shore.  They keep us grounded when we want to bail and fly away.  They force us to actually be adults, even when we secretly wish we could just be a kid and run alongside them. 

Parents are supposed to be the ones who teach their children.  Yet, without even trying or herself knowing a thing, my daughter has taught me about everything in this life which truly matters.  It’s been the best eighteen year class a Mom could ever have.

I have even learned, for unwanted extra credit, that when there is nothing left to say, nothing left to do and nothing that can be stopped, saying fewer words actually says more.