(Note: I have absolutely no idea why certain words are highlighted and capitalized. That was not my doing).
So, it’s come down to this.
This is the last week that my son will live at home before he leaves for college.
Sometimes it’s the unexpected gifts of time together that are the most precious.
I popped my head into Josh’s room yesterday to say that I was taking a trip to the camera store. He brightened up and asked if he could go with me to get some photos developed.
Within the next few minutes, we were heading down the highway, windows open, and listening to his iPod. I was delighted that he chose to play the 80’s music that I raised him and his sister on. We sang with abandon as the summer wind whipped through the car. I smiled as he stuck his head out the window like he used to do when he was a kid, the sun lighting up his red hair like a flame.
After getting our photos developed, we strolled along Main St and walked into our happy place: a bookstore. Then we went to lunch before heading home.
It was such a blessed time. We talked about everything and nothing…and we laughed. Once again, I marveled at how much alike he and I are…just like my dad and I were.
As we turned off the highway, tears sprang to my eyes and I was so relieved that my sunglasses hid them. I didn’t want tears to spoil the joy of the past couple hours.
When 18 years comes down to a few days, I’ve noticed that there are so many things I want to say, so much that I wanted to remind him of, a few tidbits of last minute advice to dispense. But the words die in my throat.
I’ve already said it all. After 18 years, for better or worse, the days of my formal parenting of my son are over. I’ve left it all on the field and he will do with all of that what he will. It’s out of my hands.
When we pulled into the driveway, I whispered a prayer of thanks for the gift of those past few hours with him.
There have already been so many lasts this week.
Julia wanted to give her brother a surprise going away party, which happened on Sunday night. He didn’t suspect a thing and was totally stunned to walk into the house and find it full of most of his friends, all gathered for one last hurrah under our roof.
Those kids who have practically lived at our house for the past four years will soon be scattering all over the country, both to college and the military. I won’t hear them call me “Mama Brown” anymore or come home to a bunch of them hanging out in our kitchen while Josh whipped up one of his culinary masterpieces.
How does time go by so incredibly fast?!
Last night, my brother took the kids camping at their favorite campground for the last time. The tradition began when we first moved here in the summer of 2007. Every August since then, they have rented a cabin and had adventures. Doug and I would drive out there to join them for a campfire and s’mores and we would all sit under the stars and the faint glow of the cheerful multi-colored camping lights and make memories.
When Jeff checked in, they had given away all the smaller cabins so he was given a deluxe one for the same price that slept 10 and had an enormous loft. He later texted me a photo of the kids up in the loft, looking over the edge with delighted expressions. And in those faces, they looked to me like the 10 and 11 year olds they were the first time Jeff had taken them there.
Our pastor stopped by the house earlier today to give Josh a copy of his favorite devotional. His heartfelt inscription on the inside cover made me cry. At the end, he wrote, “The Lord promises His Presence always. My prayer is that you will find time to stop, be still, and experience it. May the Lord bless you, Josh, in all your endeavors for Him. Pastor Steve.”
That will be my prayer for him too.
I received a text a few minutes ago from my cousin’s wife. Both our boys graduated from high school in June and he, too, is going off to college soon.
“I am very anxious about T moving 45 minutes away,” she had written. ““How are you doing?”
The truth is, I am both happy and sad all at once.
I will miss my boy.
I in awe of how fast the time has gone.
I know that as flawed as a parent as I am, that I did my best.
I am proud of the young man Josh has become and I am excited to see what mark he will make on this world.
Most of all, I am beyond grateful that Jesus will go with him and be there when I cannot.
“There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” —Graham Green