For the past four years when it has been time to send Sonny Boy and his girlfriend back to college, the tradition has been that her parents and two siblings have brought her to our house to start the trip.
There in the front yard, we have hugged them and sent them on their five-hour trip to back their university.
Today, we will all meet on that front lawn for the last time and we will say goodbye again. This time, however, it is not a five-hour journey. It will five-day journey as they travel from California to their new life in Virginia where Sonny Boy will attend graduate school.
What a mixture of emotions this event brings to me.
Needless to say, I am so proud of both of them and so happy they have this opportunity. What an adventure they are about to embark upon!
I want to focus on this happiness, but can I also tell you that there will be a huge lump in my throat, and most probably, tears in my eyes as I say goodbye to them?
That is my boy, grown into a man, driving behind the wheel of that truck. That is the boy I have loved for 23 years. He is the boy I vowed to protect, who ran into my arms when I picked him up from kindergarten. He is the boy who went on walks with me, who questioned me, who challenged me, who has always been close to us, both emotionally and geographically.
And with him is the sweet girl he has been dating for six years, who has been a part of our lives and our family. We love her like a daughter. We’ve baked together, traveled together, shopped together, and watched TV together. I am attached to that girl like nobody’s business. This morning, she’ll climb into the truck alongside our eldest son and together they’ll start their journey.
When I taught Sonny Boy to ride a bike, I remember letting go of that seat and cheering him on as he rode away from me. I remember the pride and excitement I felt knowing he was achieving his goals.
I also remember the little dip in my heart knowing that he couldn’t look back and keep his balance too.
As I stood there, alone in that parking lot, I watched as he got smaller and smaller in my field of vision even as he grew in stature and ability.
I feel as though I am back in that parking lot today.
Their truck is packed up. Their route is mapped out. Early this morning our two families will stand on that lawn once again. We’ll all say our goodbyes, and send them on their journey of 2418 miles.
So, all of you out there along their route, watch carefully in the next few days for a little black truck. It’s loaded to the maximum, not just with desks, computers, books and clothing.
It’s carrying a lot of hopes and dreams.
And also a good-sized piece of my heart.