The first moment it took my breath away was while reading a friend's Facebook post Monday night. She'd just dropped her son at college and posted an article titled "6 Reasons Why Moms Cry When They Leave Their Kids at College." Like a punch in the gut, reality hit me hard. The next morning we would pack up the cars and drive Keegan to Gainesville. While I read the article, I sat in the dining room while Keegan was around the corner in the kitchen pantry packing up his supplements (with his strength training regimen this took some time). I read, or kind of yelled, the words on the page loud enough for him to hear...
"1. My heart is so full of love for you that it aches like a physical pain and it's that almost unbearable fullness that brings tears to my eyes.
2. I will miss the way we were. Things will change between us now We will always be mother and son but I will become an increasingly less important person to you, as it should be.".......
And I choked over words, swallowing the lump in my throat back every fourth word. Wanting to share my mother's heart with him and his impact on me over these 18 years. Keegan bantered with me from the pantry as I barely made it through the article.
And that was just the beginning.
Transitions like this are like that. I never know when the next moment will come that steals my breath. Constantly in the space of unknowing, doing the next thing and then like a blast of cold wind down my lungs....
He'd been finishing his packing Tuesday morning. I'd gone to the gym, rushed home and readied myself for the day. I walked into Keeg's room and bam. Breath sucked right out of me. Involuntarily. And tears spilled forth. His room was almost empty. No more boxes. No more suitcases. No more Keegan. Only the memory of him in the bed and futon and fish tank and clothes which remained. I yelled through the house to him (one of our common playful bantering practices),
"I'm crying again. Your room is empty. I'm going to miss you so much!"
He yelled back,
"Oh that's so sad. It's ok, Mom."
It would be ok. But this moment of ache and hopeful expectancy all interwoven in me didn't feel ok. I knew it was good. And right. And just as it should be. Yet the ache of the closing of the part of our story where he's always under my roof and my care cuts to the core of my soul.
As we were close to walking out the door, my dear friend surprised Keegan with one last good-bye visit. As Sus spoke words of life into my son's soul, exhorting him to cling to his Lord, and pouring her love into him, I was filled and the filling spilt forth. Keegan has wooed the women in my life and brought joy to them. He has delighted in them and they have felt his delight. They have tasted the joy and delight I have marinated in so much of his 18 years.
I was spoiled to ride with Keegan for the two-hour drive to Gainesville. Both of us so excited for this next chapter in his story. Both of us knowing this day would be the final script of the chapters before. We bantered playfully as we've done for so many years, our inside jokes and phrases which no one else would appreciate filled our conversation. And I shared with him a part of my story he had not yet been entrusted to hold. But the day seemed right to offer that to him.
After meeting up with Dennis at Red Robin for ridiculous amounts of bottomless fries and our favorite burger ever, we headed to the Southern Scholarship Foundation house where he will likely reside over the next four years of his undergrad career.
After unpacking, shopping for essentials and setting up his space, we looked at each other. I told him again how he's made his momma proud. I told him how he brings me such deep delight and joy. I told him how glad I was for all our homeschool years together (even though he drove me to the edge of insanity for several years). I told him that I'm crazy about him and adore him and as I told him all of this....
Tears streamed down my face. He rose from his bed and wrapped his arm around me and leaned in, head to head. And I told him that the tears were the fruit of deep love and connectivity. The fruit of hearts intertwined from the good, the bad, the ugly, and the grace of God. The fruit of the delight I find in him. And how I would miss him. He is the source of so much light in our home.
For a long few minutes he and I stood there,
After Dennis took his turn embracing Keegan, speaking love into him, and losing it too, it was time for Keegan to join other housemates for a dinner. We stood in his room as he walked down the hall into new relationships and community.
And I decided that dropping the second child at college isn't any easier than dropping the first.