Last night the cell phone was thrust upon me by my crying wife as she proclaimed, "I can't do this any more." On the other end of the call was our youngest daughter, also in tears and loaded with repeated apologies, a daughter who had been crying for days as she struggled to adapt to college on the other side of the country. The tears came through the phone while more tears emitted from the other room. They were both emotionally exhausted, both drained because of their love for the other, both lost in missing one another.
Now typically, my three daughters give me endless grief for being the emotional one. My wife, excited for the opportunities they face at their respective colleges, typically puts on the braver face, is quicker to remind them of how rich and full their lives are. But this is our baby. And she is struggling with the newness and the distance, and even her stoic mother finally crumpled. Is there anything worse than hearing those you love cry while in the knowledge you are incapable of removing the source of their pain? Yet the pain is caused not by harm but by love. Perhaps that is the greatest source of pain after all. Their love will see them through, even if they find that hard to believe in the moment.
In the meanwhile, because I was needed, it was a time to swallow my own feelings of missing this youngest child, to push them aside and remind them that the love shared throughout the family will prove our solace too. Tonight, I try to find the words that might offer comfort. Tomorrow, I'll leave some space to cry.