It is the end of a weekend where we just brought our 19 year old son Shane to college. I am hit with a wave of emotion. It all happened so very quickly that while it was happening, I rode that wave, steady and sure, helping the events of the last month come to fruition this weekend. It was two months ago, while at a dinner, that I learned of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, an early college. It was one week ago, while on vacation in North Carolina, that we found out that Shane was accepted. It was three days ago that we arrived home from our vacation cut short, to pack up Shane and all of his belongings in twenty four hours. That twenty four hours time period might qualify for breaking a record in preparation for a college departure. The shopping was completed in three and a half hours. The securing of medical records, the cavity repair at the dentist, and getting a haircut took up another three, almost four hours and before we knew it, Shane’s order of proceedings in leaving for college was accomplished in what definitely could be appropriately coined, “a blur.”
I flashed back to our daughter’s High School experience. The college search, her acceptance letter, the graduation, the party, the internet perusals and Pinterest posts of what bedding to get, how to decorate her dorm room, the matching of sheets, towels, comforters, dust pans, decals for the walls, desk accessories, and a rug.
Shane has a trash can…
The sayings, “things happen for a reason” and “you are only handed what you can handle”are quite overused in my opinion. In this case though, if there was a personality better suited to the lack of proceedings and hasty departure, it was Shane’s. Shane is a level headed, takes a lot to ruffle him…a real lot… minimalist. Who, voiced questions upon shopping such as, “why does red not go with light green, navy and grey,” and “why do I need a rug, I like cold floors,” which made my jaw hurt from setting it tight so as not to reply sharply to such questions. Did he not know that he was totally ignoring any design sensibilities? All kidding aside, Shane’s experiences of the last four years, due to his illness, have been out of the ordinary. It is absolutely true to form that the beginning of his “not the norm” college experience, should be the same. He is not bitter for his lost years, but excited to be on a path that he has dreamt of. I have faced my feelings of bitterness and that loss of time, relationships and experiences for him and now, I am excited as well.
Two of my close friends have dear friends who have lost their teenagers in the last week to tragedy. It is those occurrences that you hear of that make you squeeze you eyes shut tight, and lift your face to the sky to say a litany to the heavens that no such tragedies befall your own children. Or that makes you do whatever you believe in to ask for their safety. I am writing about this because many of you are facing the same erie absence of one less voice at the dinner table. Not because of a tragedy, thank God, but because of the natural order of progression of young adults leaving for college. In our case, the abrupt departure of a young man who has been a steady fixture in our house, day in and day out, like it or not for the last four years will be felt with a heart straddled between joy and heartache. What if he cannot hold up physically to his lofty goals of Pre-Med and then a PHD in research? What if? What if? What if?
Those questions can make one feel mired in the land of the negative. A place I don’t like to dwell, so I will ride that wave of emotion again, hopefully, prayerfully, the wave will crest out on the horizon to then fold itself smoothly onto the shore ahead. Hoping for a smooth ride…
Sending out a show of support and empathy for the emotions that all of you are experiencing when letting your children fly out on their own two wings.
They will soar…
and if they crash, we will pick them up, tend to their broken wings and send them off again…it is our love that propels them.