The Boys Are Gone

January 11, 2019

So, the boys went back to school yesterday.

One to Greeley.  One to California.

The overall vibe in my house could best be described as somewhere between verhklempt and morose, strongly trending toward the latter.

It’s amazing how much quieter a house is when you remove 33% of its regular inhabitants.  2 gone.  4 of us left behind. 

Seems like any time Anne, or Lily or Jo Jo or I make eye contact with each other we spontaneously burst into tears.

I apologize if that seems overdramatic.

I realize that it’s not like we sent the boys off to World War II or anything.

It’s college.

It’s a great opportunity.

It’s exactly what they should be doing at this point in their lives.

So why does it hurt so much, I wonder?

Why does it feel like some part of my heart has been ripped out?

For as much as I’ve considered this question, I’m not sure I have a good answer.

But, at least for me, I think it mainly comes down to this:

Few things will signal more clearly that life is moving by at the speed of light and that your babies are growing up right before your eyes than sending them off to college. 

In the blink of an eye, 18 or so years, basically their whole childhood is gone.  Poof. 

Now just a collection of old pictures and grainy mini-cam videos stuffed onto shelves in the basement storage room. 

What happened to the little boy you used to read books to before bed time?

What happened to the little boy who couldn’t pronounce his R’s cowwectly? 

What happened to the little boy who had such brutal diaper rash he spent the first two years of his life with his butt slathered in vasoline? 

They’re gone.

Replaced by 2 strong, kind-hearted, wonderful young men. 

Young men with bright futures and wonderful opportunities in front of them.

They don’t need me to read stories to them anymore.

They know how to pronounce all their letters cowwectly.

And, much as I love them both, any diaper rash issues are now their own to solve.

Why didn’t I do a better job of embracing and celebrating those moments, no matter how tiny and insignificant they seemed, when they were happening?

The best answer I can find is:  because I didn’t.  Because we just don’t.

It’s part of the human condition, I figure.

We’re great at looking ahead.  Less great at living in the moment.

Unfortunately, before we realize it, the moment is gone. 

It’s a lesson I’ve been trying to learn for 49 some years now and it never quite seems to sink in.

So, here’s my message.

Go powerfully into your future, boys.

Go with strength, and conviction, and humility,  and supreme confidence in your abilities and the gifts you bring to the world.

All I need you to do is be the best you, you can be. 

That’s it.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

You are my gifts. 

And even if I didn’t do a great job of celebrating you in every single moment, I’m celebrating you now.

PS  I’m not crying.  You’re crying.

Love, Dad