I survived. So far. I may or may not have cried the whole time they loaded the cars. I may or may not have cried half way there. I may or may not have cried most of the way home.
I did not cry in the dorm. I helped him move with all the appearances of a sane mom. I didn’t sob while we were there. I only shed a tear as we said goodbye.
It was a good day. It was easier than before because it is a familiar school and because Oldest Son and his wife were there with us to help him navigate. We’ve been to this place before, we know how to move into a dorm, we know what to take and how to pack and unpack. That was all good and easy. His room is “just like I imagined it would be” according to Youngest Son. It is ready to go, down to the pictures on the wall. We have never left a dorm with a kid that settled. And his roommate is a known. A good friend from high school who is also in band. In so many ways this is easier. The other two boys went potluck and we are 50/50 on how that turned out. Youngest Son is a step ahead with a fellow band member and friend.
It was a really hard day. So much harder than before because this move carries so much more change than one kid moving. Just like the birth of our first son moved us into a new season in our life together, this youngest ushered us out of that season. In the course of a day, that transition we have seen on the horizon for a few years now happened. That thing that was looming, is.
As we drove out of town, past the Konza Prairie with the lush rolling hills and vast skies, we saw the most breathtaking sunset. The intense colors, the movement of the clouds, the warmth of the sky were stunning. So symbolic of that season coming to a close in a blaze of glory like a God-painted sunset. It was beautiful and somewhat fleeting. I wanted to pause right there and soak it in. To hold onto it as long as I could.
But sunsets are fleeting. No matter what you do, eventually the sky will turn black and the stars will be left. And then comes the darkness before the hope the next sunrise brings. It can seem like a long and daunting night. It is dark and cool and lonely. It feels empty and a bit crushing.
I know the sun will rise again and it will be beautiful, when I am ready to notice it. The colors will be vibrant and the anticipation will lift my spirit, waiting, watching carefully to see the new day and all it has to bring. But the night, it’s hard.
I am reminded of the time after my dad’s death. The sadness was overwhelming. And yet I was reminded many people have gone through the same thing. Some much younger than I, some much more traumatically, some much more painfully. My experience was not particularly unique. And yet it was the first time for me. It was the only time in my life I will lose my dad. Just as this is the only time in my life I will send my youngest off to his first college dorm. It is hard. It is raw and painful. And yet people do this all the time, and survive. I will too.
My curiosity today is how do we allow ourselves to honor the sadness, accept the change, take time to grieve what used to be? I am truly grateful that I have had the opportunity to take my kids to college. That I have had the joy and honor of getting to walk with them into adulthood. I know not every parent gets to this point. I know they are on a great path and going to experience amazing things. They will each make a good difference in our world. I am excited for that! I look forward to seeing what they accomplish, where they go, who becomes center to their life. That is all good and right!
It is also and right for Mom to take some time to experience the darkness of the night. To be in the place in between. It is OK to feel dark and sad and maybe a bit scared. My heart is tender right now. I feel like I should have some kind of warning beacon for those around me. Be gentle with me for a while, my heart is a bit beat up.
I will be OK. Just give me some time to adjust to the quiet.