AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: August 21, 2013 | COMMENTS: 7 Comments
CATEGORIES: Back-to-School, college, saying goodbye,
We’re officially a “man down” in our house and it’s not at all what I expected.
I think since our college trip last summer I’ve been anticipating Drew’s exit from our daily lives with a lot of anxiety. Just the thought of him not coming through the door every evening or the absence of his infamous “did you hear” stories each night has quietly unraveled me a bit. I’ve written countless times about how I’ve been balancing two very different emotions about Drew going to college…excitement and dread. So, yesterday—when ‘the day’ was finally upon us—I was curious about how all of these feelings were going to manifest themselves.
Turns out I was pleasantly surprised.
The day went splendidly—and not at all according to my plan. I shouldn’t be shocked. You’d think by now I’d know that my grand plans are never remotely close to how things actually unfold. I think my first mistake was setting a benchmark for the day by relying on the memory of my own college drop-off. It turns out Drew is different than me; Ohio University is different than Miami University; and things have changed over the past 25 years.
When we pulled into the parking lot of Wilson Hall at 10 am sharp we were greeted by the entire OU cross country team. Both the men and lady Bobcats were there to enthusiastically (and quickly—they are runners) unload our jam-packed over-sized gas-guzzler. The entire process was lightning fast. Before we knew it we were standing outside the smallest (and I mean teeny-tiny, folks) dorm room with bins, suitcases, carpet rolls, and what appeared to be everything Drew ever owned wondering how in Sam’s hell all of this …was going to fit into that.
After a game of what appeared to be musical beds (Should we bunk them? Should we loft one? Do you really need a desk?) followed by a brief negotiation as to who was getting the top bunk, we started the process of unpacking. It was then that things looked exactly how I envisioned; The mother of Drew’s roommate and I on the floor; both boys standing over us strategizing the most efficient use of space; and Sean and the other dad standing in the hallway talking sports.
It was perfect. I figured as soon as we were done, we’d go out for a nice meal, make a trip to the grocery store (never mind the fact I had packed half of Costco), put the finishing touches on the room, and then say a heartfelt goodbye complete with pictures. Unfortunately, that plan went up in smoke when Drew was whisked away at noon for team obligations leaving us to complete the unfinished tasks.
It wasn’t how I wanted the afternoon to go, but as I’ve learned things usually go as they should. Turns out two uninterrupted moms can whip out a dorm room in record time. After Sean and I had a lunch date we made a run through Walmart for odds and ends and by the time Drew returned we were ready to roll—two hours ahead of schedule.
Cue scene I’d dreaded for more than a year.
As I exited his room and navigated the four flights of stairs down I could feel myself losing it. Cue silent pep talk. (Realize the great situation; See the automatic net of friends in his teammates; Focus on his smile…his happiness…his excitement; Rejoice in his success—your success; Don’t wallow in his absence; This is good—No…this is great.) And it was. By the time I made it to the lobby of the I was fine. No tears. Just smiles.
Not what I expected.
As Drew walked us to the car Sean handed him a letter. I have no idea what it said, but I’m sure it was sentimental. Sean’s like that. I’m not so I dug into my pocket and handed him a twenty and a Chapstick.
“It’s all I got!”
Drew laughed and then gave me a great big hug. A real hug. It was a hug that said, “I‘m fine, Mom. This is great, Mom. I can’t wait to do this, Mom. Thanks for not crying, Mom. You can go now, Mom.”
As we drove away Sean said, “No tears? I thought you’d be a puddle.”
I replied, “No. That was awesome. I’m happy for him.”
And I am. Really, really happy.