The art of letting go

My son recently completed his freshman year at college. With 1500 miles and two time zones between us, for me this past year has been a lesson in letting go, in sitting back and believing we taught him right, in trusting him to make his own choices.

I thought I was doing so well, too. And then Sunday happened.

Sunday was the first day massive tornadoes tore through the Midwest, and the first day of his trek, alone and by car, from Denver to Atlanta. The same trek I’d offered, countless times, to fly out and make with him, so I could keep him company, so his father and I wouldn’t worry.

But he chose to make the trek alone, and I was okay with that. He’s a good kid, he makes good choices, so I had to be. Practice what you preach, right?

Or I was, that is, until I checked Twitter.

twitter 1

Okay, so clearly he was joking but he also was not. He really was huddled under a bridge, mostly because, he told me later, it was raining too hard to drive and he followed a parade of cars there. He said he figured there was… well, if not safety than at least comfort in numbers.

Words every mother wants to hear.

His second tweet was even worse.

twitter 2

That’s when I pulled my I’m Your Mother and I Command You card and told him to find shelter for the night, preferably underground. He was already on his way to the nearest and sturdiest hotel. He made it home a few days later, a little shaken but safe and sound. Looking back at the footage from Sunday and Monday, I know he was one of the lucky ones.

When faced with an EF5 tornado, my son made the right choices. He found shelter under a bridge, then as soon as it was safe, found better shelter. He watched the radar and listened to local radio, and planned his route accordingly. And his mother, had she been sitting beside him, wouldn’t have done anything differently.

Still. He was blessed, and so am I.

About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (, Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at

Posted on May 24, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Christy Hayes

    What a nightmare for you and your husband! I’m so happy he made it home safe and sound. His sense of humor and good sense will serve him well in life.

  2. OMG, I can’t even think of how you must have felt! My son must be similar in age to yours (19 and a freshman in college) and though he still lives at home, I would hope we’ve prepared him somewhat to be responsible when he flies the coop. Your son acted like such an adult and I can tell you’re proud of him. What a relief!

  3. Kimberle Swaak

    Thanks ladies. Hopefully next year he’ll choose travel days that don’t include massive tornadoes in his path!

  4. oh my goodness you had to have been terrified. He had to be as well. I’m glad he is ok 🙂

  5. I would have been a complete wreck making bad decisions. Like – “I’M DRIVIN’ INTUH THAT TORNADUH TUH SAVE MAH BABY” wreck making bad decisions. So glad Evan is home. This is an argument for packing our children in shipping peanuts and requiring helmets at all times. 😉

  6. Kimberle, I’m so glad your son is safe. You know, we spend so many years protecting them and looking after them and teaching them to make smart decisions. Then suddenly, one day they do and they surprise us. We’ll never stop loving them and worrying about them, will we? 🙂

  7. They live to give us gray hair! So glad Evan is home okay, though. 🙂

  8. Kimberle Swaak

    Thanks, all, for your kind words. We had a few very stressful days, and my nails and I are glad they’re over!!

  9. Janna Qualman

    So glad he made it safely, Kimberle!

    I live in the Midwest, and we’ve been having quite the storms the last week. I’m thankful, though, that so far no tornadoes have been too close.

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