Our youngest child, Grayson, left for college on Sunday.
As you can imagine, it was an emotional day. We had decided to keep things lighthearted and to try not to start talking about old times as we ate a leisurely brunch and then packed up his car....and that did help - up until the last hug.
Man. How do you put eighteen years of love and pride and happiness and sadness and excitement and heartbreak and fun and memories into a goodbye? There's just no way to describe it.
Watching his car drive slowly down our dusty driveway is something I'll never forget. We heard him stop, just beyond the trees and out of our sight, to pay his respects to the pond before he pressed on the gas and headed for Texas A&M. Our ears strained to hear his wheels disappear down our country lane.
We sat for the longest time on our creaky wooden lawn chairs afterward, staring up at the sky through the leaves and gazing at the driveway...and that's when the tears really came. "I can't believe it's over," we said more than once. And we talked about our favorite memories with the kids and how much we loved being parents. What a gift we've been given.
The past couple of days have been a roller coaster of emotions. We will see Gray again on Sunday for the Freshman Convocation, and that has given us something fun to look forward to. And as the heartbreak has eased, we've started to feel excited, even euphoric at times, that we made it. We made it. Our kids are amazing adults and all the hard work and daily stress of parenting is done.
Now it's just back to us.
We've been staring at each other like a couple of newlyweds, in awe of the power of love that has brought us through raising our family and creating our history. We never got fancy trips to Disney World and our camping trips were few and far between, but we had our kids and we had each other and it was enough. And now it's the two of us - the same couple that was crazy in love all those years ago, and we feel exactly the same about each other as we did back then.
Except now we know the rest of the story. All the lines have been colored in and we can see the picture clearly. We know that despite some tough times that stretched our marriage and our faith, we kept going, and it turned out... beautiful. Not perfect, but beautiful... because it's our own story. It turned out beyond what we could have hoped for, when we were those two kids who brought home that first baby from the hospital and wondered what the future would hold.
It's been an amazing ride. We are so very grateful.