The YA Indie Carnival's weekly topic has never touched on a subject more near and dear to my heart than the one we are discussing this week. Instead of simply posting an excerpt - included at the bottom of this post - from The Warrior Series, I'm going to share the experience I had last weekend when dropping my daughter off at The University of Texas in Austin, Texas for her first away-from-home college year.
Since my son and husband had baseball and football to practice, I was charged with escorting my daughter, getting her new apartment set up, and coming back home with a sense of accomplishment on a job well done. The entire weekend, I followed the plan perfectly. I stayed on task and ignored every feeling of angst, anxiety, and sadness bubbling to the surface. I pushed them down by finding one more chore that needed to be completed before I could leave her side once and for all. Until finally, there were no more excuses for delaying my departure.
Before leaving and like a military drill sergeant, I gave her strict instructions to continue to live her life the way she always had, to be careful, and to call if she needed me. Focusing on the three-hour drive home, I - stoic, so there wouldn't be a scene - pulled out of the apartment's parking garage right before hearing a single tap at my window. It was my daughter, and she was upset. Watching her, I finally had to admit that breaking up our very tight-knit family was going to be much harder than I'd ever expected.
Standing on the sidewalk and waiting for me to open my window, she reminded me of the infant who'd cried all night every night for the first year and a half of her life because she wanted to sleep with me and be near me. I saw the toddler who at eighteen months - and in the face of the experts - learned how to climb out of her crib and dart into my bed in order to be with me anyway. She was the little girl who held my hand every night until she was ten-years-old, begging me not leave her side while she slept. Abandoning her with those pictures in my head and with her fear of being away from me burned into my heart, mind, and soul made driving off (after several more hugs and kisses) one of the hardest things I've ever done...one of the hardest things I will ever do. At least, it was until I made it home.
While my eight-year-old son understood my daughter was going away to college, he was upset with me when I returned home without her. I knew something was wrong with him, but I had no idea how much he was hurting until one hour after he went to bed. I heard him crying. I went to his room, and he, a tough football-wielding, baseball-playing boy, was sobbing. He missed his sister, and he wanted her back NOW! In his hand, he held the his letter that she'd written before leaving.
T-Bucket ♡ (our special nickname for him)
I hope you do good at your games today! I'm gonna miss you, but I'll be back soon. Get ready to have a good school year and make sure to do all your homework. I love you so much! Call me if you ever need me.
The sight before me...and the fact that I had left my baby girl nearly brought me to my knees. Unable to speak a word, I cried with Trevor and held his hand like I'd done with Allie so many times when she was little. All I could do was silently let him know I missed her as much as he did, and my hurt was just as fierce. When I was finally able to speak, I asked if he'd like to sleep in her bed. Instantly and almost in disbelief, his head shot up. As if he expected me to change my mind any minute, he hopped out of his bed and dashed to her room.
Resting on her bed next to him, I rubbed his back until he cried himself to sleep. While I was there, I prayed that Allie's first night away from us was less agonizing than ours. In my heart, I know it wasn't.
✿✿Excerpt from Warriors of the Cross✿✿
Impossible for me to shake was the sensation that today was life changing. With absolute certainty, this milestone – one imagined for years – marked the end of the life I had known and the beginning of one I had yet to envision. Both outcomes filled me with overwhelming gratification…and grief.
The compilation of three major transitions at the same time made a recipe perfect for disaster. First, I was leaving my hometown for a new city that was eight hours away from everyone I loved. Second, I had been assigned to complete my residency at a university I only knew through pamphlets. Third (and most important right now), I rented a room in a house with a stranger whom I had met during a spur of the moment phone call weeks ago. Hands tied and without options, I moved toward my new world.