Letting Go

The theme for this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge is Flash Fiction.  One of the challenges is to write a story in 300 words or less.   I’m going for broke and have written mine in 298 words, not including the title, and it’s written from an American perspective this time.

Letting Go

Taking one last sweep of her son’s room before closing the door on his boyhood life for ever, Cathy choked back her tears.

‘I’ll be waiting in the car Mom!’ called Mike from downstairs, interrupting her thoughts.
Not daring to allow even a hint of the dread of this day to show, Cathy hurriedly wiped her eyes and put on a good smile as she got into the car.

‘Ready?’ Mike shot his mom a sideways glance, drawn away momentarily from the lure of his cell phone.

‘Yep! Let’s go!’

For the first part of the journey, Mike chatted excitedly about his life to come as a College Freshman and Cathy tried her best to sound enthusiastic.

Later on, Mike’s eagerness to ‘just get there’ seemed to Cathy that it was tinged with nervousness and as they drove closer to their destination, they both drifted off into the lost thoughts which had peppered their conversation but which now gave way to the silence between them.

Arriving at last, the rest of the day was filled with signing papers, heaving boxes and meet-and-greets. Cathy was grateful for the distraction of the organized chaos, but far too soon the moment she had dreaded arrived.

With bitter relief, it was over and done with in a hurried blur of hugs, kisses, love-you’s and ‘’Bye Mom, I’ll call you soon!’

And that was that.

It wasn’t until later that night and curled up on her son’s bed, that Cathy allowed the tears to fall at last, soaking his pillow as she let her mother’s grief take hold, wishing as she did for all the world that her boy was a three-year old again, snuggled up next to her as she read him his favorite story one last time.

(c) Copyright Sherri Matthews 2014

What future awaits? Eldest son, Morro Bay, California 1987 (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

What future awaits?
Eldest son, Los Osos, California 1987
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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83 Responses to Letting Go

  1. Oh Sherri, what a wonderful story. You conveyed so much emotion in only 300 words. I still vividly remember the day that I left my parents for college. It was such a tough day marked by excitement, nervousness, and of course tears and sadness. You capture all those feelings in your story, I loved it!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Heather, I ‘m really glad you enjoyed it. Ahh, yes, a time of sad parting, filled with such heightened emotions for both the parents and their grown children, as you well remember…

      Like

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  3. jennypellett says:

    Great story in 300 words Sherri. I’m sure so many people will identify with this. I still miss reading the stories – still got a shelf full of Roald Dahl that I just can’t part with – mind you, secretly I don’t think Son would be too happy to find them gone either …

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Jenny. I took this from something I’d written a while ago for a writing assignment and turned it into this – the original was longer by about 150 words – so a good exercise in cutting and editing if nothing else! I forget that I’ve written other things sometimes!
      Ahh, I know, I do too…weren’t they such precious days? And yes, same here. In fact, we still have box loads of all those books up in our loft to prove it…must be worth a fortune 😉
      Hope you feel better soon Jenny…

      Like

  4. Wow, Sherri, you did a wonderful job with this challenge. I could feel Cathy’s heartache in your words and the photo, perfect!
    As usual, you a winner! xo
    Speaking of….DFD’s team lost last night…I went into hiding. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Jill, I LOVE your new look, you look beautiful! But then you did before, but this is wonderful photo of you…wow!!
      As for my story, thanks very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had actually written it for an assignment a while ago in the first person so this time I changed it around a little. If nothing else, a good exercise in writing practice for honing and editing. I can hear Marylin’s voice in here, can you, as she encourages us all to do just this, and what wonderful advice indeed 🙂
      Oh no, so sorry for DFD’s team…yikes!! No wonder you went into hiding… hope he’s recovered…please send him my love and commiserations 😦 xoxo

      Like

      • You’re so sweet, Sherri…thank you! My mother has always told me, I look better with shorter hair, so she was happy. 🙂
        Did you post that first person assignment? I think changing POV in a finished piece is a great learning tool. Oh yes, I hear Marylin and you’re right, she is the best!
        Thanks, but DFD has recovered. I told him he’s matured. 🙂 In the past, he would stay upset for a day or two. This morning he said, “They’re just not that good.”
        It’s almost Friday…yippeeee!!!!!! xoxox

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Wow Jill, your hair must have been really long before, I hadn’t realised! I bet DFD loves it too 😉 Talking of whom…poor guy 😦 Glad he didn’t have to hide away in his man cave for too long though…maturity comes to us all in the end, like it or not 😉
        I didn’t post the first person assignment Jill, it was written for one of my fiction assignments for my writing course (which is taking ages to finish as I keep leaving it!) but it occurred me to try and change the POV and post it here just to see what you all thought. I’ll email you the original if you want to see it, it’s about 450 words.
        I’m glad to see Marylin’s comment here now, I’ll have to make sure she reads how much we value her. Marylin, you are you reading this? We think you are the best!!! 🙂
        Friday now, almost the weekend, yay!!! xoxoxo

        Like

  5. Ms. Vee says:

    You did a wonderful with this story. The emotions, and words flowed nicely.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you very much Ms Vee for your very kind and encouraging words, and for visiting! I’m so glad you enjoyed this story and I hope to see you again sometime, lovely to meet you – Sherri 🙂

      Like

      • Ms. Vee says:

        It is nice to meet you too. You are welcome, and thank you for visiting, and the likes on my blog. We will connect again in the near future. Have a wonderful day Sherri. 🙂

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Yes, definitely Ms Vee and I will be coming back over to you too very soon, that’s a promise. Have a lovely weekend and again, thanks so much for your encouragement and lovely comment 🙂

        Like

  6. 😂😭😰😱😢 Ok, you have opened up the flood gates!! Whaaaaaaaaaa…. Sigh. This was me two years ago except that I didn’t wait to get home, I balled the whole 5 hrs home. God knows what will await me this fall. Great piece. 💜

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh no!!! You know Maria, I thought of you when I posted this! Of course I wrote this from my experience and I cried myself when writing it!! In reality, I did the same as you, with both my boys, cried all the way home and flung myself on their beds as soon as I got home and stayed there, clutching their pillows, crying for hours. Oh it’s so hard isn’t it? I wish I could tell you it will be easier with your daughter… I wish I could take it all away for you…but I’m sending big hugs as far as I’m able and all the strength in the world…and all I can say is that in time, it does get better, it really does…but it takes time…
      Bless you..hugs and more hugs…

      Like

      • Thanks, Sherri. It’s one of those things we must all go through, it’s inevitable and part of life. It doesn’t make it easier knowing this but at lease we know we are not alone. I know my feelings will fluctuate between intense sadness and intense running around the house naked! LOL.

        Like

        • Sherri says:

          Haha! Well, that is definitely one way of looking at it and yes, there is that freedom to look forward to 🙂 Have a great weekend Maria 🙂

          Like

  7. Amy says:

    I could feel it for her… I love the story, and the photo tells the story.

    Like

  8. Rachel M says:

    I wonder if this will be me in 10 years or so?

    Like

  9. A very moving story, Sherri. How often I’ve wished that my son could be a little boy again. 🙂 Love the photo. xx

    Like

  10. A universal grief. Now, where ARE my Kleenex? Made me relive my daughter leaving home as well. Killer emotions.

    Like

  11. innatejames says:

    It’s funny the chasm between the parent’s and the child’s perspectives of that day. The child is immersed in the future; and the parent is immersed in the past. No wonder it seems to be harder for the parent than the child. Thanks for the glimpse into what my parents must have been experiencing on the day they gave me to a dorm room. Very well painted, Sherri, bravo!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hello there James (I hope that’s your actual name?)! Thanks so much for coming over to read my flash fiction, I’m really glad to receive feedback like this and to know that this story resonated with others from both perspectives, as you so eloquently point out, especially since I wrote this from personal experience as a mum/mom!
      I just had a quick look at your blog too and loved your story, I’ll be back to read more as soon as I can, I’m intrigued. Great to meet you – Sherri 🙂

      Like

  12. Pat says:

    Wonderful story, Sherri. Wow! I’m impressed with your writing and how you captured the feelings of mother and son. It didn’t seem like fiction at all, instead, a well-written story I think most of us can relate to and place ourselves in. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Pat. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I wrote this from personal experience. I first wrote this as a fiction assignment for the writing course I’m winding my way through but is taking an age to finish for some reason (could blogging have something to do with it I wonder, and writing my book too? Hmmmmmm….. 😉 ) and I wrote it in the first person originally. It was about 450 words long. So it was a great exercise to hone and edit the piece as great writing practice if nothing else, but I’m so glad to know that you enjoyed it and that you felt the emotion. That is the best compliment and encouragement I can get 🙂

      Like

      • Pat says:

        I could see that, Sherri, bits and pieces of personal experience woven through it. Good exercise in a fiction assignment. Bravo for you in taking it on and spreading your wings, my friend. 🙂

        Like

  13. You captured it beautifully, Sherri. Change the he to she, the son to daughter, and I’m right there with you. Our daughter had to go to college a week early. Athletes met with coaches and began working out. Jim and I got a room at a nearby B&B and watched from the sidelines after we moved her in. The first day of tennis team workouts was 104 degrees with high humidity, and after a grueling practice we took her to a Quick Stop for a bottle of Gatorade. She threw up in the parking lot.
    We laugh about it now, but then it was so hard. We stayed an extra two days just in case she didn’t make the team and would need some encouragement. Nope. She made first string and did fine.
    I fought back tears during the long drive back to Colorado. Mothers never are ready to let go of their babies.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Marylin, I do hope you read mine and Jill’s conversation above! You will know why your ears are burning if so… 😉
      I’m really glad that you enjoyed this piece, thank you so much, written in the first person originally but I changed it for this challenge, with your encouragement and teaching ever whispering to me… 🙂
      What a great story you tell of the time you took your daughter to college. I can feel the heat, the tension, the emotions, and then she threw up! Oh boy… It’s great to be able to laugh about these things later on isn’t it, all part of family lore, but as you say, at the time, it’s so, so tough. One of the hardest parts of being a mum/mom, we have to let go of our baby chicks but we never do in our hearts…
      I’m so glad that your daughter made the team. I’m intrigued. I love tennis, a huge fan and of course adore Wimbledon, have been watching it every year since I was 12 years old. Does your daughter – Molly right? – still play?

      Like

  14. bulldog says:

    You are one brilliant writer Sherri… that book of yours should be up and on book shop shelves…

    Like

  15. My eyes welled up when I read this. It was beautiful. ❤

    Like

  16. lilkaraphael says:

    You made me cry! You 298 words evoked too much emotion for a gal with two boys looking toward college. Much love, Lilka

    Like

  17. marydpierce says:

    Oh, Sherri – we kind of wrote about a similar topic. Just from different angles (my son is off now, I chose a moment when I knew it was inevitable). Good job.. My condolences. I know what a challenge it is.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I just came over to your blog Mary and read your very powerful piece and I’m now following you. Thank you very much for reading mine. Tough to say the least isn’t it, letting go of our children?

      Like

  18. thirdhandart says:

    A very well written, heart wrenching story Sherri! The photo of your son is adorable… a perfect accompaniment 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Theresa, sorry it was so heart-wrenching though, but glad you enjoyed it and also the photo. I remember taking that photo as if it were yesterday… 🙂

      Like

  19. Glynis Jolly says:

    That was beautiful, truly. Yes, being a mom never stops. The thoughts run over and over in those seconds during the day when there is silence.

    Like

  20. NS says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. My son is four years old. I can’t even imagine the sobbing wreck I’d be when he went off to College….*sigh*…

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thankfully you have a long time before that day comes. Enjoy every precious second with your little boy, as I’m sure you already do. One of the hardest things as a mother is to let our kids go but then we never really do! Thanks so much NS for taking the time to visit my blog and read, I really appreciate it 🙂

      Like

  21. longandluxe says:

    Oh Sherri, this is so so touching and beautiful!! I cried. Just so powerful. My son will graduate high school in two years and I’m so proud of him every single day 🙂

    Wishing you peace and a thousand blessings today!

    Allison

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      The high school years are so busy aren’t they? I remember them like yesterday. My ‘baby’ is my daughter, my youngest (I have two older boys) and she is 21 so we’ve been out of those school years for some time now. The pride is immense as we help our chicks fly the nest. What is such a blessing is when, as adults, they come home again just to spend time with us. As my boys do now. it makes the pain of saying goodbye when they leave for college worth it. The homecomings are priceless!
      Thanks so much Allison and I would wish you the very same! A thousand blessings…I love that 🙂

      Like

  22. Oh my, I do not want to think about the time when my son leaves for college! I may beg him to go to a state college over here just so I wont miss him much but that would not be a good idea I think. We have to embrace the thought that they are spreading their wings and paving their own paths.
    Bittersweet!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, very bittersweet indeed! Our role is to see our babies off, out of the nest and to spread their wings, and we couldn’t be prouder, and the homecomings are wonderful, to have a loving, fun and strong relationship with our adult children is such a wonderful blessing. Yet, we never let go of them in our hearts. All part of life’s rich pattern! Have a great weekend Jhanis 🙂

      Like

  23. Sherri, you write with heartfelt emotions about our chidlren’s ventures in the big world. I’m sure many parents, especially moms, will tear up reading your words.
    You certainly hit home. I have done that kind of trip a few times already and the last one is on its way soon. I am looking forward to let my son spread his wings but I will pack some Kleenex in my purse, for sure.
    Lovely post, as always.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so very much Evelyne. It will be a big change for you with your youngest about to fly the nest, a new era for your family. Oh I know how that feels! Very bittersweet, sad but so many possibilities for you all… 🙂 I will definitely be thinking of you…

      Like

  24. Oh, Sherri – it’s not a story, it’s what so many of us have felt – true, heart stabbing emotion, pain and bereavement. You have worded it so perfectly.
    The hardest part is letting go, the song says. But what a joy when the security of seeing them fly happily comes.
    Emma x.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thanks so much Emma. Well, yes, it is certainly a universal theme, this is one of the hardest, challenging yet fulfilling roles of us mothers. So hard letting our children go but so wonderful to watch them fly off into their new lives. Always so lovely too when they come home because they want to 🙂

      Like

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  26. Great job Sherri, I’m always impressed by those who can tell a story in just a few hundred words – I suffer from long-windedness in my writing 🙂 Although I have written a couple of stories recently that were around 1,000 words, which is quite short for me!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you very much Andrea but I would say that I’m always amazed at how much I bash out initially and then how much I edit and actually end up with! These fiction assignments are a great exercise for that and I’m enjoying the challenge 🙂

      Like

  27. Wow – this twangs a heartstring! So beautifully written Sherri, and your little guy is a gorgeous little fellow there. X

    Like

  28. Well done Sherri. You could really feel the mother’s heartache. Having to let go is so difficult yet so essential. Cheers Irene

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Irene, I’m really glad you liked this story. And you are so right. Letting go is very bittersweet and very essential…
      Hope you had a good weekend (a three day-er for us, hence me playing catch once again, so terribly behind…)
      Get those walking shoes on…I’m ready now…
      Cheers 🙂

      Like

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  30. Beautifully written. Tears here!

    Like

  31. Heyjude says:

    A lovely tale. Not one that I can relate to as I was actually quite cheerful to let my ‘adult’ kids go, but oh how it broke my heart to leave my first granddaughter behind in Sydney after spending a month with her (she was 8 months old). I cried all the way to Singapore!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Jude! Glad you enjoyed it but now you’ve got me crying at the thought of you having to part with your baby granddaughter so far away 😦 That must have been so tough. I remember how hard it was when I left the UK for the States when said son, as above, was 3, my mum’s then only grandchild. It was so sad for us all…but then we got to look forward to Granny’s visits! I can’t wait to be a Granny but I hope I don’t have to suffer such distances 😉

      Like

      • Heyjude says:

        Distance is horrid. Our new grandchild expected at end of May arrived whilst we were in Cornwall, due to complications they delivered him early. Such a tiny mite only 1.27kg but thankfully his lungs and everything else appear to be working well so it is just a matter of feeding him up! You feel so helpless when you are so far away, fortunately Julia’s mother has flown over for a few weeks to help take Julia to the hospital each day (she lives in New Zealand), but it is a worrying time! And the flight to Sydney from here is just so long!

        Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh how worrying for you. Congratulations on your newest grandchild and what a relief to know that he is okay but very difficult being so far away from your loved ones…thinking of you Jude, do let me know how things go… xx

      Like

  32. Mahesh Nair says:

    Very touching, and powerful!

    Like

  33. tieshka says:

    Hi Sherri- Great story.. I fear when my kids are old enough to go to college- but I also look forward to them going on that journey one day!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Tieshka! Thanks so much, and yes, be glad your kids are the age they are and you haven’t got to face this yet, but then again, it is a wonderful thing to watch them grow up and fly the nest to make their way in the world. Then you get to have their homecomings to look forward to!!! Also great to enjoy the journey along the way, which I know you are doing every step of the way… 🙂

      Like

  34. Writted from the heart, striking the heart of every parent missing their little angels who are now all grown up with wings of their own. My son is only 8 but I know one day, he will have a life of his own thus I try to cherish every laughter, moment, hugs and kisses as much as I can. Beautiful post my friend. All the best to you and your family.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thank you so much IT. You are so right about cherishing every moment with your little son now. Each day is the greatest of blessing with him as you have grasped with every fiber of your being. Yes, he will grow up and make his own way in this world, but he will have you as his Dad always and your relationship as adults will take on new meaning and will be every bit as beautiful and loving and cherished. Just in a different but beautiful way 🙂 Still, you have many years to go along the journey before that day arrives…God bless you dear friend and your family too 🙂

      Like

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