I know, now, why Mom and Dad left the way they did in September of 1999, from the lawn on the campus of EOU..
We took Katlyn to school last Friday so we could help her get checked in and situated. We all knew going in that Papa and I and Weebeast wouldn't be staying long. The drive over was a time of thinking, talking, reflecting, and admitting that this really hadn't hit any of us yet.
We stayed at a hotel that night and had sushi for dinner. We thought about touring a bit, but the Olympics were on, so of course we had to watch Usain Bolt and the Jamaican team smoke everyone else in the men's 4x100 meter relay. Worth it.
The next morning, there was a certain silence among us all. We knew what the day meant and we were all trying to be positive and show each other that we were ready for this next step.
We headed to the college on time and found where we needed to be for check in. It helped, of course, that they had drawn arrows in chalk for all of us. No one knew that morning, where they were supposed to go.
The resident assistants all greeted us with smiles and kind words. There was a 10 minute presentation that helped us all understand how that day and the next week would go for the students. The lady presenting told us, "you kids can do this. And Parents, you can let them go." I giggled and swallowed the lump in my throat. "Can" had nothing to do with it. We knew we "must."
Released from the presentation, our next steps were acquiring room keys, paperwork, and temporary parking passes. Then it was off to the boxes in the truck. We all grabbed an armload, even Weebeast, and headed for the stairs. The second floor is an alright place to be on moving day.
The dorm rooms are very empty that first day. They beg for a creative touch and someone to give them a homey feel. We piled boxes, bags and pictures on the desk, the bed and the floor.
We took our time, without being too obvious in our attempt at a slow down.
When everything was unloaded, we delayed the inevitable a bit longer, by moving her truck to the designated parking area.
We stood in the parking lot, and visited some more. Papa and I offered advice. We offered reassurance. We said it for ourselves and Weebeast as much as we did for Katlyn. Standing there, saying our goodbyes, the almost 19 year old young adult, suddenly looked to me like the 7 year old I had met so many years before. In my mind, the single braid she wore, morphed into "First day of Kindergarten" pigtails.
I wanted then, to take her hand and lead her to her dorm and help her get ready. But, we knew we couldn't. It suddenly occurred to me at that very moment, why my mom and dad had stopped half way across the lawn and said "Welllll....okay....this is it."
It was time. We had to let her go and take those steps on her own. She could do it. We knew it. It was us, I realized then, who were struggling.
With tears in our eyes, we hugged goodbye and reminded her that any time she needed us, we were just a text or call away. We also reminded her that she could do it.
Katlyn nodded her head then, smiled through the tears, shouldered her purse, turned and took those first steps to her new beginnings...
We did what Mom and Dad did in September 1999, and got in the truck, and slowly drove away.
I know, now, why they did it that way...