The countdown has begun: ten days. 240 hours. I don’t know if I am ready. How can I possibly be prepared to watch my baby walk across the stage, accept his diploma, and begin a new chapter of life that will take him far away from me?
Graduation is merely a formality. He finished his coursework in February and has been home with me ever since. I begged him to get a job in addition to teaching piano lessons because I thought he would quickly grow bored when his busy life slowed to a crawl. But he resisted, wanting some downtime after four years of living in a near constant state of fatigue and stress, thanks to his rigorous academic schedule. (12 AP classes, to be exact.)
For the past three months, he has been taking it easy, practicing the piano, napping, and otherwise enjoying the benefits of a wide-open calendar. It has been wonderful for both of us. He needed the break, and I needed to spend time with him.
We suffered through many workouts, commiserating about our sore muscles afterward. We spent almost every lunch hour together, tackling the world over Greek yogurt and avocado toast. I listened to countless hours of piano practice that made it difficult to get any writing done but left my heart happy.
I have savored it all, knowing my quiet days with him will soon come to an end.
Sometimes, when I least expect it, a wave of sadness descends upon me, leaving me blinking back tears and attempting to swallow the massive lump that has become a frequent fixture in my throat. It already feels like I have lost my right arm. How can I possibly say goodbye?
Other times, it is clear that he is beyond ready to move past this stage of limbo and greet his bright future. In those moments, I feel like I could walk him out the door, hug him tight, and happily watch him fly away.
It is a roller coaster of emotions, and I never know which one will surface at any given moment. I am trying to enjoy the ride, clinging to the rush of speed and the wind in my hair like a lifeline.
In a few days, I will sit in the audience and listen to his valedictorian speech. I will celebrate his hard work and cheer like there is no tomorrow. My feelings will be a jumbled mess, but I have grown accustomed to that. Mostly, I will be overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity I have to be his mom.
It is hard to wrap my head around the reality that he will soon get on a plane and fly away for two whole years of missionary service. I will only get to talk to him four times during 24 months that will probably feel like an eternity. I may never be ready for that farewell, but he already is. So I will brace myself, look ahead to the light, and watch him walk into its welcoming glow.
All grown up. Strong and stalwart. Prepared to leave his mark.
We’ve had a good ride these past 18 years, but it is not over. We have merely arrived at a long series of new beginnings, characterized by joy, hope, and celebration. I cannot wait to see where they lead.
Now please pass the tissues before the waterworks begin.