Well... today has finally arrived. It's hard for me to believe it was a little more than ten years ago that the picture above was snapped on our living room sofa. Michael was 8. Jack was 6. Ryan was 3. And, in a rare moment, I was able to capture Christopher crying instead of Bobby. The twins had just come home from the NICU so they had to be two months old. You can see Chris was wearing a heart monitor still (just to keep me on my toes). That pretty much sealed the deal that Joe and I would never sleep restfully again. What a special time. Didn't feel like it then, of course. But it sure does now.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like millions of other families – yours likely included – haven't already walked through this door. It's a rite of passage. A turn in the family album. The closing of one chapter and the start of another. It's just... odd. I'm walking around a little hazy, like my head can't fully concentrate. I went down to the basement three times yesterday with the purpose of getting a new roll of paper towels and managed to come back up all three times without them. Where is my brain? I already know the answer. It's nine hours away in South Carolina.
I feel like my feet are holding me in the past. As though they're trying to freeze-frame a moment that is today. The last day we are a family of seven, all living under one roof. The last time all seven seats are filled at our kitchen table. The last time the dynamic the boys and Joe and I have become so accustomed to will be the same. Tomorrow is a first. And a last. Look below to see how they've changed in ten years. Wow.
We leave for Clemson University bright and early tomorrow morning. I swear Michael is doing everything in his power to drag his feet and to do absolutely nothing helpful as the clock ticks on in my mind. Kids do that, my friends tell me. It's natural. It's almost like an innate way for a college-bound student to drive a wedge between what's coming and what he's leaving behind so he can close the door without crying. Will I cry when we finally say goodbye? Hard to say. There's that hard-as-nails-mom-of-boys woman inside me who scoffs at that. But there's also the squishy softy who can't wear eye makeup to the Hallmark store. It's just so incredibly stupid.
So... why am I sharing all this with you? I don't know. It's therapy, perhaps. Makes me feel better to get it off my chest. Because I know that, no matter how hard I prepare for it, when I wrap my arms around my six-foot-three-and-a-half inch, 155 pound soaking wet son on Saturday... a part of my heart will break.
It's going to be a long drive home. I don't know what Joe and I will talk about. But I do know this: I have to go through this four more times, so I'd better figure it out, fast.
And that, my friends, is why we always feel so blessed to have today. Right here. Now. THIS. The view changes quickly. The way I see it, the clock says I have 24 more hours to enjoy this special scenery. Which today, I entirely plan to do. Peace, everyone.