I had no choice but to let him go.
Half his blood was there. He was born there. He belonged as much there, as he did here, and perhaps now, even more so. What kind of mother would let her 16 year old boy fly half way around the globe for an open ended length of time, to land into the arms of an estranged father, culture, family, language? I had no choice but to surrender to his inner calling and to my own knowing that this journey for him was essential to his growth. I trusted what he needed for himself. His placenta was buried there next to the family temple, along with past and future generations. And now, he was being called back to his roots, as I always knew one day he would be.
I could not stop thinking of all the dangerous things that could happen to him when he left. I had lived on that island for seven years and the darkness of it beats like it has a pulse of its own. Where road rage, venomous snakes, spiders the size of starfish, and black magic breathes through the dark veils of jungle riverbanks. The haunting melody of its temple walls swaying in ceremonial procession, was now beckoning my son’s return.
As he boarded the plane at midnight, tears fell like a monsoon of emotion flooding the terrain of my motherhood. Submerged in my own fear, my own absolute amazement of his courage, his rite of passage, I took a deep breath. It was all I could do to find my way back to his eyes – dark like mine, burning with intensity, mystery, and a wisdom that stunned me.
He looked like a man as I watched him board the plane through the glass wall that now separated us. He held his head high, and I could not help but be completely endeared to that famous Balinese dude swagger as he moved from deep inside the curve of his lower back.
His slow purposeful walk embodied the strength he was born with.
I held my breath as I weaved a prayer deep into the sky that was about to take my son half way around the planet and away from me. And with all my heart, I exhaled life into these words:
“Dear Bali, you birthed me into a mother as I birthed my son to you 16 years ago. He returns to you now, on a solo journey of self-discovery. Keep him safe and protected in the womb of your love. He is yours now.”
With the umbilical chord cut and hanging like a vine in the indigo sky, I watched him take his first step into manhood. Through the glass wall that stood between me and my son, I saw him blow me a kiss and mouth the words, “thank you, Mama. Love you.”
My heart ached so deeply, I could feel it in my womb. It broke open and outward into a rhythmic, pounding pride of fierce love for this courageous young man who was headed into the abyss of his own heroic journey.
Without me, for the very first time.
Leslie Caplan is a Writing Coach, Editor, and Facilitator of Writing as a tool for Therapeutic Healing & Self-Discovery. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.