Well, we did it. The day came and the day went. The college send-off was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done. I’m not sure it is possible for anything to be as hard as I thought that would be, but it was. Which is why it is November before I am able to write about something that happened in August.
We took her to college on a Friday; the next day we spent the entire day cleaning out the garage, because it hurt so much less to just be busy. And the garage was really, really messy.
It took me about 2-3 weeks before I didn’t cry at the dinner table, or when I watched one of our favorite TV shows, walked into her room, or looked at her picture. It wasn’t that I worried about her — I never really worried about her. I wasn’t afraid that she would stay out too late; actually, I figured that at some point she actually would stay out too late. It didn’t concern me at all that she would skip class or fail to study. I was a little concerned that she would fall off her high loft bed in the middle of the night, and that she would never find healthy food to feed her picky appetite.
But mostly, I just miss her. I miss her face, I miss doing things with her, talking to her. Maybe most of all, I miss watching her with her younger sister; as they shop together, swap clothing, compare notes on school, boys and how old Mom is. They are friends as well as sisters and that has always been so much fun to watch.
But over the next couple of months, we began to get used to her being gone, which is how I know that the human psyche can basically adjust to nearly anything! While at first I wondered if I would ever be able to feel normal again, normal now means that her room is dark and her car is not in the driveway. And when she comes to visit, the anticipation is sweet, the time flies by and hugs are much longer.
Transition is always scary. Our impulse is usually to stay where we are, as it is comfortable and it is what we know. But reaching into the unknown brings growth, maturity and the promise of even sweeter rewards. Though the process of letting go is the ultimate challenge of parenthood, it has brought the deepest satisfaction — as she has become not only daughter, but daughter and friend.