I knew everything would change when you went to kindergarten. For the first time, I was out of control. You climbed on the big yellow bus with your serious expression and your Spongebob backpack and sat in the front seat. After you pulled away, I collapsed on the road and cried, then jumped in my car to follow you to the school so I knew you were safe.
When I drove you to middle school, I noticed your nervousness before you got out of the car. I said, “You got this.” You nodded and repeated back, “I got this.” I watched you walk into the school where you glanced back once before disappearing through the doors. I cried the whole drive home.
When I dropped you off at high school, you never looked back to wave goodbye. I drove away with a lump in my throat and knew it was my final chapter of something special.
I stood by as you were tested with your first real heartbreak—a medical diagnosis that would change all of our lives forever. I had to accept a disease with no cure and that you’d lose most of your sight. I had to deal with the fact you would never have a “normal” life, but you were never normal to begin with. You handled the fallout with grace and faith, and not only accepted it but thrived. Others try to think outside the box. You are forced to do it every day, yet you never questioned God’s path.
I watched you go to spring and fall dances, junior and senior prom, and endless athletic races and win dozens of medals for your accomplishments in school. I watched you graduate with high honors. You studied and worked hard, but it was your heart that gives me the most pride—that big, kind, beautiful heart that will always guide you, even when I’m no longer here.
Every step has brought you right here.
Stepping away from me. Moving out and into the dorm.
College is your next chapter, my love. But I’ll be on the other side of the phone, down the road, praying and watching from afar as you step into your future. I’ll cry and mourn, but it’s for me, not you. All of your growth and actions to this day have reminded me of some crucial things.
I was reminded that you aren’t me…and your experiences are unique. I was reminded even though I carried you and birthed you and took care of you…you are not mine to have forever. I was reminded that my job is to let you go…and let you struggle…let you experience pain, beauty, loss, happiness…on your own terms.
To my son, and all the others who step away from their parents, we love you.
You got this.