My son is flying to Cairo (Egypt) tomorrow, return date unknown. It is potentially a great career move for him—a percussionist, who often accompanies his girlfriend, an accomplished belly dancer, in performances and workshops around the world. He’s also making a documentary about their travels.
For me, it’s pretty much a disaster. As much as I intellectually understand the impulse and the rationale behind the move, as much as I want to celebrate their adventuring spirit and talent, I just can’t. I am torn between fear for their safety and anger that they’re putting their lives at risk. He is my only child. My only family.
And there is absolutely nothing I can say or do to change their minds or their plans. For a parent, that’s a devastating realization. I cannot love him into doing what I want—choose a safer path. (Not forever, just for now.) I cannot make him see things the right way. Um, my way.
So I have to let go. I have to trust that their sponsors and fixers and other patrons in Egypt will do their part and protect my son and his girlfriend (who, by the way, have organized their trip down to the very last strategic detail).
Trust is hard for me. Vulnerability is not something I do well. Catastrophic thinking, on the other hand, is my special skill. I have to let that go too, move well beyond my comfort zone and get over my sweet self so I can endure with grace, if not acceptance, what I cannot control.
To keep my sanity and health, I’m doing what I’d recommend to any of you in a similar situation--practicing mindfulness and maitri (self-compassion), staying active (thank you, Pure Barre!), keeping very, very busy.
Last night, I cooked a farewell dinner of their favorite foods. And will prepare it again when they return. Inshallah. It’s all I can do. Let them go with love and move on.
His name is Marshall. Her name is Claire. Please keep them--and all the world's innocents--in your thoughts.