A Pat on the Back Tore my Heart Out

My soon-to-be 23-year-old son decided not to come home for the summer when he finished school. After all, it was his final year of university, and he wanted to be on his own. I totally understood, I had felt the same way many years ago. And when the pandemic hit, he already had a job interview and still planned on living in the city. I was, and still am, proud of his decision. Even our daughter, 4 ½ years older and still living at home, decided to move in with her boyfriend and his family. So, in the middle of March, not only did my husband and I find ourselves in the middle of this pandemic, we also became empty nesters. We see our daughter weekly as she doesn’t live too far away, but not so often with our son.

In early April, we made the hour-and-a-half drive to our son’s Ottawa home to drop off a car. We did not want him taking public transportation. We didn’t see him again until about two-weeks ago, when he and his “bubble” of three friends rented a cabin at a campground down the road from us. He and his friends visited every day over the 2 ½ days they were here. It was nice, but weird. We only visited outside, and maintained physical distancing.

This past Sunday, our son came home again for a couple of days to celebrate his birthday a week early as he was off from work, but this time he was on his own. He stayed in a trailer we borrowed and set up in our yard. He went in the house twice to use the bathroom (there’s a chemical toilet in the trailer). Both times I sanitized before and after and the windows were open. We sat outside and talked, we ate meals outside, he and my husband went fishing on our pontoon boat (my husband at the back driving and our son at the front lots of space in-between), we stayed away from each other.

Before he left tonight, I asked him if it was okay if I patted him on the back.  The last time we’d hugged was in February. I told him to hold his breath, and I would do the same. The second I touched him; my heart broke and tears sprang to my eyes.

The next time I see my daughter, I will do the same with her, knowing that when I do, my heart will tear again.