My eyes open in the morning darkness, I turn on the light, and silently walk down the hallway. Duffel bags and suitcases line my path. I open each bedroom door and look in on my sleeping daughters like I have so many times before. I walk downstairs and make coffee. As I go through these familiar motions I think this truly is when the page turns. I’ve had some unexpected changes, but this one was planned. It’s been planned for eighteen years. Few changes in life are so neatly orchastrated with a tidy beginning, middle and end. The moment the last child enters college is truly the end. Of course, the relationship continues to evolve, but the parent-child chapter is finalized by this one final step and it is a defining moment.
But, not quite yet, that is still hours away.
Picking up my coffee I make the familiar trek back up the stairs and open the door to my sleeping daughter. She’s been up most of the night packing and repacking. I gently wake her and realize this is the last time I will ever wake her up for school. This is a blessing as getting a high school senior up to attend an early morning art class is no easy task. But, not today. Today, she is in the shower within minutes. Relieved, I pack a small bag for my one night stay in Corvallis.
By 7:00 a.m. the three of us are headed to the airport. The proceeding weeks had been incredibly busy, so in contrast this feels relaxing. We listen to music on the way, then park, head to the terminal on the shuttle, check our bags, and walk through security. We stop for coffee and croissants near our gate. We board the plane and once we are high above the clouds my daughter falls asleep on my shoulder.
We spend several hours in Portland with friends, picking up cars and packages and shopping. By 3:45 we are standing in the college dorm room that will be the home of my daughter for the next nine months. It is tiny. It’s called a small double, but in actuality it is the same size as my older daughter’s single in Southern California. We are efficient, the three of us, and together have her unpacked and her bed made in under an hour. The new room mate arrives and we have a half an hour with her. As expected from her profile and communications she is lovely. Finally, we say goodbye, but it’s softened because we will all be together the following day for breakfast.
I take one last look at my youngest standing confidently in the door way, her dark brown hair softly pulled to one side, she’s wearing a pink coat and grey pants, and a very contented smile.
Love and blessings.