|We managed to check only 3 bags! Hugging his "wheels" goodbye.|
Gladness and sadness are emotional extremes that I did not really know could happen simultaneously. Or maybe they really can't. Maybe together they just make for a moment by moment roller coaster ride of the heart. Either way, I know I have felt them both, and seemingly at the same moments, in the last couple of weeks. Sending the oldest off to college is both the happiest and saddest thing that has ever happened to me. To us, actually. Together Robert and I have thrilled over the community, the academics, the opportunities, the fellowship, and the warmth (and I don't mean the Texas temperatures!) of Baylor. And together we have dissolved into tears talking about him and praying for him back here at home. This is much harder than I ever imagined, and much better than I ever imagined, too.
|A generous welcome goody-bag, an exuberant move-in crew, and God's Word to greet us.|
We got to Dallas late, since I had to teach all day. So late, in fact, that they gave our very inexpensive rental car to someone else, and they were totally out of other cars as well. Fortunately, there is always a company willing to rent you a car even at 10pm. Tip: Instead of walking up to the counter and trying to rent a car on the spot, use your phone or computer to book one online from the airport terminal and THEN go the counter to claim your reservation! We learned this the hard, and very expensive way.
Tired and very hungry, we opted for the Wendy's drive through ~ bun-less burgers and fries. It was not the best decision, but we were kind of desperate and I nixed the drive-two-miles-down-the-road-to-IHOP-sit-down-and-wait option. We had to be up and out of the hotel by 7am in order to make Kory's 9am move-in time, and it was already 11pm! I was accused of being a party-pooper.
We made it to Waco at exactly 9am, followed the move-in signs to his dorm, and were greeted by 30 or so students in matching t-shirts, clapping as we pulled up, and shouting "Welcome to Baylor!" They warmly greeted us, introduced themselves, and immediately began unloading Kory's bags from our SUV, taking them two flights up to his new room. A welcome goody-bag awaited Kory from one of his mentors in the Leadership LLC (Living-Learning Center), as well as Scripture written out on the LLC agreement. Kory applied to be a part of this learning community after we attended a workshop about it at orientation. Through it, he will get a minor in Leadership, mentor a child in the Waco Public School District, and have countless other opportunities to grow as leader by interacting with leaders in all different fields. It also allows for a scholarship AND a suite-style dorm rather than a community-style bath.
|Home away from home|
Since he only packed three bags consisting of mostly clothes and shoes, we had quite a lot of shopping to do. It's too bad we couldn't do the shopping before being greeted by the move-in crew, because we DID have to carry all of this and MORE up to his room over the next couple of days...
|Good thing my dad showed up with his suburban. Our car wouldn't transport it all!|
(Please forgive all of these tedious details! This is as much for my love of archiving as for your enjoyment and and insider's view. I suppose aspiring parents of college students might be interested, though?)
|Dorm room transformation!|
And maybe the icing on this cake-of-comfort I was experiencing was this:
|Meeting Judge Starr|
He asked what had taken us to Amherst, and when Robert said that we had come 14 years ago to plant a church, he stopped, walked toward Robert and with both hands grabbed Robert's hand and said very sincerely, "Thank you for doing that." Then he came to me, looked me straight in the eye, grabbed my hands tight, and said the same thing.
He had his assistant (who took our picture) write down the name of our church as well as my email, so that I could send him the photos I had taken. She emailed me within two hours, saying how much she and Judge Starr enjoyed meeting us, and to please have Kory contact her if there was ever anything he needed. Comforting indeed.
We talked a bit more about a mutual friend ~ Ian McCaw ~ who had come to Baylor 10 years ago as the Athletic Director after serving as Athletic Director at UMass here in Amherst. We had been so sad to see the McCaws leave, but he was thrilled to have him at Baylor. He couldn't say enough about the gracious, humble attitude of Ian, but the report was certainly no surprise to us!
|Boots, bears, and gluten free buns!|
After the bookstore, we stopped by to see the bears ~Judge Joy and Judge Lady.
When we arrived at the picnic, we found Kory who had already eaten an amazing BBQ meal complete with a gluten free bun. (Baylor is one of the top ranked schools for accommodating the GF lifestyle!) He was surrounded by friends he had met at Line Camp earlier that summer, and he introduced us to each one. Since we had to drive back to Dallas that night, we decided to skip the long lines for food and leave him in the company of friends with a fun night ahead.
|A final goodbye. (And yes, I now have to wear glasses. Bifocals to be exact. Doesn't that just "go" with being old enough to have a child in college? Sigh...)|
I cried through a beautiful breakfast at the Dallas Sheraton at the Galleria (Thank you, Pedro, for the incredible accommodations!) the next morning, and again as the plane took off to take me back home without my firstborn, and again as we crawled back into our own bed that night. I did not realize how hard it would be to send off into adulthood this kid whom I birthed, snuggled with a cup of milk after every nap, taught to read and write, add and subtract, write an essay, decline Latin nouns, and helped to build countless intricate Lego sets. The one who always tucked in his shirts and wore a watch, a knife and a belt every day until he became a teenager. The one who followed all the rules, and read World War II books over and over and every single Hardy Boys novel. The one who loves his friends and traveling and talking about Jesus and is just generally happy, positive, and delightful to be around.
But I also began to think of the few sets of parents we know personally who have recently buried their firstborn children due to illness or accident or suicide. It struck me how they would certainly give anything to do the thing I had just done. And so, while the tears of some small form of grief still fall at times, I thank God for the incredible privilege of sending a happy, healthy, godly son off to college, and into his future and God's calling on his life.
This excerpt from Henri Nouwen on "hospitality" was sent to me by our dear friend, Gregory, and it has been such a source of encouragement and truth in the last few days:
Yes, I want to be a good host to all my guests ~ most importantly of all my own children, and letting them go is one of the best ways I can do that.