“I don’t really know what I feel…” my daughter said the night before leaving for freshman year at college. I understood. Everything was shifting. We were both worried that our center would not hold. It will.
We anticipated dissolving into sobs when the moment came to say goodbye. We didn’t. Our eyes got puffy but barely a tear was shed. I reckon that’s because we each had a friend with us to sweetly cushion the blow of our separation. (we also let go of each other just in time – both of us sensing that if we hugged a moment longer we’d be in trouble.) Beside Molly was with Halle, her pal since elementary school and now also a freshman at this school. With me, Chris, sweet Chris who woke at the crack of dawn, packed her car with Molly’s stuff and drove me to deliver my kid to college with me.
Chris and I share important history. I ran with Molly to her house to spare my daughter seeing her father in death. Molly calls Chris her ‘second mother’. She is such a key part of our lives, it felt right she be with us for this momentous event – and she insisted on driving. My loving, good-natured, cheerful friend, lightened the mood throughout the day. By myself I suspect I would have bawled on those country roads home.
I think of Molly in her room, in her new life. Between the excitement and newness, she is probably missing her routines and the comforts of old friends – the posse of girls from high school. She is lucky to have Halle and others there with her and soon her circle of friends will widen even more. The number of people who ‘get’ her, who love her, who will laugh and cry, share old and new secrets with, friends who will see her through whatever ups and downs come her way – love, heartbreak, love again – will grow. Some, maybe many, of these friends will last and enrich her for a lifetime. Maybe even, one day, they will drive her to drop off her kid at college.
And meanwhile, I’m here with R and Tetley. Her ‘second mother’ Chris and family will be just across the street and all our other pals and loving neighbors too. We’re here. We’re Home.