I stole the TV from downstairs. I took the Nintendo while I was at it. I stole an old crock pot, although I had no idea what I would do with it. I even made off with most of the snacks in the pantry. After a quick half-hour of work, everything was stuffed into my bright orange VW Bug, and I was officially ready to leave for college.
As unprepared as I was packing for school, I was even more unprepared saying goodbye to my mom. My dad was easy. He said, “Have a safe trip!” and was already busy doing something in the yard. But I just sort of stupidly stood there facing Mom. She had tears in her eyes, and she was even shaking a bit. While this might be expected in other families, my family is more of the unemotional type. She hugged me hard. For a long time. I was only going to school a couple hours away—heck, I’d probably be home the next weekend—what was this all about?
It was several years later that I experienced, in part, the struggle of letting go.
His backpack was almost as big as him. It was packed full of all the essentials of kindergarten life: a 24-pack of Crayons, a tissue box, a matching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles notebook and pencil holder. Just a week ago he was wearing shorts and sandals, his hair sticking up everywhere; now he was wearing a uniform, his hair neatly combed to the side. He was excited and anxious. We got out of the car, and I took his hand as we crossed the parking lot. My mind flashed back to the time when as a baby, he wrapped his whole hand around my finger—now, as we neared the school doors, the grip became looser and looser, and our hands parted. I let go.
Was he ready? Would he be scared? Would any other kids be mean to him? Would he be good at school? Make friends?
I turned him to me and tucked in the back of his shirt. He promised to tell me all about school. I gave him a hug and sent him on his way. On his shirt was a name tag that read: "Hi, my name is Nicholas, and my dad is picking me up after school." I didn’t know where his day would take him and what it had in store, but at the end, he knew that his father would pick him up.
That last moment before college takes on a new light nowadays. My mom was not upset about me taking her crock pot or emptying the pantry—she was letting me go. She had invested 17 years of her life preparing me for mine, and now it was time for her to stand back and watch what would happen. Would I be good at what I did? Would I make good friends? And yes, I’m slowly discovering what I’m good at and finding my way around. Good friends have come and gone, but what remains is my name tag.
Across my heart is a name tag that reads: "Hi, my name is Dan, and my Father is picking me up after this life." I’m not fully prepared for all this life has in store for me, and sometimes I wander around like I don’t know what I’m doing and keep making the same mistakes over and over again. But I know, when it’s all said and done, that my Father will be waiting for me to pick me up, just like He promised.