September 27, 2023

Goodbyes & Spiders: How I Crashed into Nature’s Wisdom on Endings & Beginning.

I won’t pick up the pillow and blanket you left on the floor this morning, like I have so many times this past summer.

Any other day, I’d be in your wake tidying up the little things you left out of place: the water bottle on the couch, the wrapper on the counter, the hair tie on the stairs.

But not today.

Perfectly placed in the shape in which you always lay, I remember you wrapped in the creamy blanket on the floor this morning with your long, golden hair flowing across the cow-print pillow.

Even for a neat-nik like me, the urge to put the items back in their place is quelled by the memory of you sprawled out on the floor watching TV.

So today, I’ll leave your left-behinds in the same place where you laid this morning. I want to stare at the silhouette they make, shaped like you.

I want to remember the goodbye bear-hug I gave you in that pile on the floor this morning before you jumped in the car, and how I stood on the driveway waving and misting as you rolled away for your road trip halfway across the country to begin the next semester at school.

I think about when the next hello hug will be, maybe months away.

In two weeks, I’ll do this all over again with your brother…no doubt leaving his crumbs on the placemat and the chair slightly pulled out from the table for a bit, as if he had just gotten up moments ago.


This cycle of goodbyes and hellos is a way of life for me now, with college kids at schools in other parts of the country. Each one is as hard as the last, but not just for the missing-them parts.

Emotions are hard to reconcile. They tug from opposing poles—one part sadness at not seeing them daily, another part worry over not being able to affect what might happen in their lives, not that I could when they were home.

The brew of feelings is balanced with equal parts of excitement for their new beginnings, their independence, and the opportunities and experiences at the other end of the road.

I’m not sure which parts are winning out right now with the freshness of this first departure, but a piece of wisdom crossed my path this morning—or rather, I crashed into it in the backyard.


For the past week, I’ve been watching the spiders around the yard—big ones, with big intricate webs. I’ve seen at least three now, and the size of both the webs and their weavers are new for our backyard habitat.

I’ve left them in their place, respecting what they need to do to live peacefully and productively in the ecosystem we share.

But after inadvertently barreling into a web this morning and almost ending up with a thumb-size spider in my hair, I was compelled to learn about their symbolism, given the bold presence they’ve been exerting.

I found many sources and have woven together the message I believe I’m being shown through their appearances.

Equally representing darkness and light, the spider traps her prey in the web for their demise yet inspires us with the intricate and detailed beauty of her designs, a master artist spinning silken threads into patterns seemingly sewn out of nothing.

She is a symbol of endings, yet a promise of creation and new beginnings.

This is the juncture I’m at today, mellow and gloomy because my time as a mother of children at home is ending its current cycle. With each ending, I move closer and closer to the time when they won’t live here at all.

Yet, I am thrilled for their beginnings…and mine as well.

Nature is reminding me about the cycle of transformation, its lows and highs. Endings halt us for reflective and sad moments, but the promise of new creations carry us forward.

So for now, I’m honoring the end of this time by leaving the remnants of our summer intact, pillow and blanket strewn across the den floor.

Tomorrow, I’ll tidy up, look ahead, and begin a new cycle.


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