I gave a lot of thought to that bed last year, adding layer upon layer of pad, foam, down topper, softened sheets, carefully chosen pillows. I reasoned that if I could just get that right—if I could give her a warm, comfortable, enveloping place to fall at night—the transition would be easier. The world would feel safer.
Then way too fast the sun was setting and it was time to leave her. I kissed my college freshman goodbye and bravely offered words of encouragement, sharing my excitement for all the wonderful new things that lay ahead. We hugged hard, and I got in the car for the long drive home.
Ten miles down the road the tears started to fall. It was something I hadn’t expected, this wave of regret that so much was behind us, her childhood now complete. But there was also a healthy dose of fear. I remembered my first Freshman days on that very same campus, feeling lost in an environment I didn’t know how to navigate, alone in a world that held no place for me.
My bones ached for her.
Then yesterday, 12 months later, we made that journey again. But this time—sophomore year—it was markedly different. There was a joy in her—in her returning—that filled me with memories of my sophomore year, lived (are you ready for this?) on the very same floor, on the very same side, of the very same dorm.
Room arranged, bed made (with layer upon layer of soft goodness again), we stood on the grass in front of the dorm for one last photo. We hugged hard (again), but as I started into my “I’m so excited for you” goodbye speech, the sound of my voice was overtaken by shouts of “Eliza! Hey Eliza!” coming from the front door of the dorm.
She nearly skipped as she ran to meet her friends.
And Tim and I drove away, this time our hearts truly happy.