A Cold Call While Waiting

The empty nest gets a call. It’s our baby bird crying on the other end of the line, directly from freshman year, post pledge, second semester mid-term burnout.

Nothing was right in her life from her most recent class, to her budget, to not being able to find a job, to her lack of time and her lack of spring break plans. The list went on. The worst thing was that she had a cold.


My child is 1,000 miles away and she’s sad and sick! And somehow I feel like all of her woes are directly my fault and  I should fix them. (That’s just how I’m wired. Or is it just a mom thing?)

This is what I saw in my mind...

My mind was racing as this child who rarely cries, sobbed into the phone. I wondered how quickly I could get a flight to Texas. Could I get cookies baked before I left?

Was there some way I could carry homemade chicken soup on the plane?

Oh, the crazy thoughts I had, but I tried to keep my composure while trying to talk her through this low spot.

I recommended sleep, healthy food with lots of water, and a long walk…all in my most calm voice. (I hope.)

DARN, then I had to leave the conversation. What a horrible time to have to get off the phone. Can’t these people see I have a crisis on my hands? The Worst Mom of the Year award is surely mine.

It took me a good 24 hours to realize I was not thinking rationally. It’s a cold for Pete’s* sake. It will pass.

I calmed myself down, and then someone posted on the university parent listserv that their child has the flu. Okay. Alli had a flu shot. I was determined not to panic.

I didn’t.

Well, at least not until the Dean of Students sent out the weekly newsletter including an article about how several students had the flu.

And it could possibly be a strain not covered by the vaccine.

I actually checked the Southwest site for flights. (Don’t tell Larry. Oh, hi Sweetie….) and then I checked out a link to a grocer near campus to see if I could get chicken soup delivered to her dorm room door step. Oh yes, it is possible…for a price.

Maybe it was time for me to take a walk and get some sleep and drink lots of water. Or lots of something. I think I grew an ulcer this week worrying about my child. It was all I could do to not call her every 10 minutes to check on her.

So, this really is a lifetime deal.  I thought that I would not freak out like this after Alli was old enough to take care of herself. I’m learning as I go here. We really must find that Parenting Handbook.

We Skyped with Alli on Sunday and she is feeling better about everything. She has had a job interview, has talked to her professor, has spring break plans and her cold is going away.  She is in good spirits again.

Lordy. I felt the world lift from my shoulders.

You can laugh with or at me. Go ahead. It’s okay.

Seriously, why do I let myself get in such a dither? (Don’t you love that word? Dither. Dither. Dither.)

This child of mine is strong. She is brave. She is determined. She is willing to take chances. She can handle this bump in the road (obviously better than I can.)

My fearless girl

Things were put into serious perspective this past week when a friend of Alli’s had a stroke. She is only 18 and also a freshman in college far from her home here in Nashville.

Sophie and Alli - The early days - Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music

Sophie’s parents do not know what is ahead for her. Spring break plans and classes are not on their radar right now.  I’m sure they would have traded all of this for a bad cold and budget issues, a momma guilt trip and a chicken soup dilemma.

This event has rocked the world of many people. It’s so unusual to have someone so young go through something like this.

Her young friends are scared. We older friends are in disbelief. But everyone has come together to hold this child up in a positive light. You do not hear of doom and sadness. Instead, there is a great sharing of stories and photos and memories. As I read the words of others who know Sophie, I see a common thread.

It’s all about love.

Sophie and her Mom by Casey Quin (Thanks, Casey for allowing me to share this photo)

The general consensus is that this is part of Sophie’s journey. Close friends and family, young and old, strangers from around the globe are tuned into this stretch of Sophie’s path.  We hold hands and travel together with every bit of hope we have. (Please join us. Sophie and her family need all of the positive thoughts you can send for her. Thank you.)

When you love someone, no matter how small or how large a challenge may be for them, try to remember that it’s a part of their story, and help them to perceive this.

My wish for all of our children is hope when things seem dire, strength when they feel broken, and the keen realization that they are deeply loved and never alone.

We wait as life unfolds. Find joy in the journey. Be a participant.

-Libby Lu

P.S.   Hey Punky- Thank you for coming into my life without that elusive Parenting Handbook. I’ve learned most of my life’s greatest lessons through you and with you during our day-to-day lives. I’m here for you, always. ♥

*Who exactly is Pete?


26 thoughts on “A Cold Call While Waiting

  1. Libby I will repeat my words to you that I think I have said in the past. You are an incredible writer and what you say in words is how I feel about my only son but could never put into description. Hope you and Alli have a wonderful springbreak filled with joy. Peace and good health, Stacy

  2. My mother is 88, and she is very worried because my brother (aged 56) has a bad cold, and he lives in another state with his wife and kids. See?…. it doesn’t ever stop.

  3. Libby, Sophie and her family have my prayers. You touch me with your words and your actions. You always have.
    Love to you, Sally

  4. Libby, my prayers are with Sophie and her family. Your words and actions touch me.
    They always have.
    Love to you, Sally

  5. As the old saying goes ” A MOTHER IS ONLY AS HAPPY AS HER SADDEST CHILD” ……mothers never stop being moms and I thank God for that. Hope Alli is feeling better so you can feel better 😉 Prayers for Sophie and her family.

    • Thanks for always reading my blog, T. Yes, thank God that we are forever in love with our children. Al is fine and we all know that Sophie will be fine one day, hopefully soon.

  6. Thanks for sharing your most personal thoughts and perspectives. I enjoy your writing very much. Glad Alli is on the mend!
    Will keep Sophie and her family in my prayers.

    With Warm Regards,
    Janice Vieira

  7. OMG!!! I JUST READ THIS & I’m sorry I was not there for you through this. I’m a bad friend. I’m so glad you all made it through this frist college sickness from/far away/tired/stressed out/ what to do moment! I do remember when my son called home sick in his fresh. year. He was 9 hrs. away. I will pray for Sophie, her family…So tragic, unbelieveable. I miss you & HH. so much! XOXO A

    • It took me a minute to figure out it was you, A.(grinning) You ARE a good friend and you ARE with me.I feel your friendship no matter what. I know I can pick up a phone and we can pick up where we left off. No worries. Ummmm seems you had a child across the big pond who was calling home ill about a year ago…Thanks for reading and for your love. I miss you and HH too. Let’s go have a party in the parking lot soon? Double date? XO L.

  8. Oh…Libby how I love reading your blog! I feel so connected to you in a way that feels like we have been BFF’s forever. Just went through the same heart wrenching ordeal with DQ and as you know I packed my jeans and cowboy boots and hopped on a plane to San Antonio!
    I just picked up DQ this morning and am looking forward to a week with her in her own bed where I can quietly open her door peak in on her. Truly this mom gig is a lifetime gig for sure! Love you, Val

    • Oh Val, one of my favorite people on the planet, I love you. Thanks for reading. I’m glad we found each other. I love knowing that you understand that mom/daughter thing.
      Enjoy having DQ home. Peak in on her a lot. Read her a book, preferably something from early childhood…I’m thinking George and Martha.
      Have fun.
      Love you,

  9. Everything that ran through your mind with Alli reminded me of me. I, too, would have been checking flights as I baked cookies.
    My positive thoughts are flowing your way for Sophie.

    • I feel honored that you read my blog. I just discovered yours yesterday and it was my addiction. Went right home and wrote down my goals for the night and proceeded to carry them out. I hope to post an update on Sophie. She is doing so well. Her mother keeps us all updated via FB each day and her outpouring of positive thoughts and real thoughts is uplifting, heart breaking and has made her one of my hero’s. What a journey. I think mother’s are all connected.
      Thanks, and have a great day,

  10. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I
    had to tell someone!

  11. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids.

    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic
    but I had to tell someone!

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