We got our baby girl off to college without a hitch on Thursday. She was assigned a move-in time of 2:00 to 4:00, so there was no rush to get out-of-town. I woke up early and so did Kacey, but the hours prior to departure still passed too quickly.
She and Connor had agreed to say their goodbyes on Wednesday night, but in a sudden change of plans, he came over Thursday morning after his class ended at 9:00. (He’s taking classes at the local community college this year, so he’ll remain home while she’s away.) Connor helped pack the truck and ran a last-minute errand with us. When it was time to leave, he and Kacey went outside to say goodbye. My heart broke when she came back in the house a little while later, trying to stop crying. I know this separation will be difficult for them. They are so close and used to seeing each other nearly every day. But if what they have is real, this time apart will be a good test of the strength of their relationship.
There was even a rare display of affection from big brother Jake as Kacey headed out the door. Jake was unable to come along for the ride due to his work schedule, so as we were leaving, he called out, “Bye Kaydice!” (Kaydice has long been the boys’ nickname for their little sis.) “Have fun at college!”
It may not seem like much, but believe me, coming from Jake, that was a huge display of love and emotion!
I couldn’t have asked for a better day or such a smooth transition for Kacey’s move. Aside from the fact that it was 93 degrees outside, warmer than it’s been in weeks, it was a beautiful day.
College is only just over an hour away from home, (which makes me very happy! I like that she’s not too far away.) There were four flights of stairs to travel to the dorm room and the sweat was running down my back by the time we got all of her belongings moved from the truck to the room. Kacey’s roommate had arrived a couple of hours ahead of us, so her side of the room was pretty well settled and she made herself scarce so we could help Kacey get moved in. And I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how she packed. She made sure she had all of her necessary comforts without overdoing it. Granted, she has to come home in two weeks for a family wedding, so that made the decision-making process much easier. She’s only got to get through these two weeks and if she discovers she’s desperately missing anything, we can make sure she gets it before she goes back to school after the wedding.
We put the room together in pretty short order. The hardest part was getting the bed made because it was lofted. I wish Kacey luck when it comes time to change her sheets. It’s a two-person job for sure! She said she hoped she and her roommate could tag-team when it came time for that chore.
By the time we got her settled in the room, her friend Liz was texting her. Liz is Kacey’s friend from way back in Kindergarten and they’ve remained friends through high school, even though they’ve traveled with different circles over the past few years. Turns out that Liz’s dorm is only a block away from Kacey. The two girls agreed to meet and go pick up their book orders at the book store. Mark said we would drive them, since the book store is located way down a famously steep hill and it would be difficult for the girls to have to walk back up with boxes full of heavy books, especially on such a hot and humid day. (During our initial tour of the school, our tour guide described the student body’s reputation for having the best thighs and butts due to the steepness of this famous hill!)
When Liz walked over from her dorm, I told her how good it was to see her. I am so glad Kacey has someone from home to lean on as she learns how to navigate the campus and college life. As we drove to the book store, I couldn’t help but think that this was all happening so much easier than I had expected. I hadn’t expected to feel comfortable at all about leaving my baby girl behind. I expected to feel a stone in my heart throughout the move-in process. But Kacey was so happy and confident. She seemed ready to tackle the world. It was hard to be too sad when she was absolutely embracing this next phase of her life.
Of course, the time had to come when we had to say goodbye and reality hit me then. We drove back to the dorm from the book store and realized she really had no need for us to stay any longer. The girls from her dorm were gathering in a short while to have dinner together and start to get to know one another. It was time for us to go.
I got out of the truck and walked around to the other side to say goodbye to her. I wrapped my arms around her, told her I loved her and kissed her. I felt the sadness welling up inside of me and I was finding it hard to keep it at bay as the tears began to fall. Kacey’s arms were wrapped around me too and we reluctantly let go. My heart ached as I watched her walking away and up the steps into her dorm. She seemed so little and so grown up all at the same time. I’ve envisioned and hoped for this moment for years, but watching it play out in front of my eyes was harder than I’d ever imagined.
Mark let me be for a while as we drove away. After a time, he asked if I was okay and I nodded. I know she’s only a short distance away. I know she’ll be home in just two weeks. Technically, I can hop in the car and go see her almost anytime I want. But I won’t. I want to give her a chance to spread her wings. I’ll let her decide when and if she wants me to come visit and only then will I go.
Of course, family and friends called to ask how it went and if Kacey got settled okay. I told everyone how well it went and that it couldn’t have gone better. But when I woke up Friday morning, the first thought in my mind was Kacey. She’s not here and I miss her. Yes, she’s eighteen years old and on any given day, I might see her only in passing, if at all. But as this long weekend looms ahead, I can’t help but think how I’ll miss seeing her emerge from her bedroom, lazy and late in the morning, her long hair a mess. I’ll miss the way she never hesitated to hug me good morning and I’ll miss how she shares her world with me through her wonderful stories. Yes, we can text message. Yes, we can talk on the phone and Skype. But I miss having her here already.
Even Jake, the rock of the family misses her. I called home from work as I was leaving late yesterday to let someone know I was finally on my way home. Jake picked up the phone and he said, “It’s so weird here, Mom. It’s so quiet and it feels empty in the house.”
He mentioned coming home from work, late the night before. He talked about how he always sees her bedroom door shut across from his and that it was strange to see that door open and know that she wasn’t inside the room, asleep in her bed. I’m not surprised he misses her. When they were little, the two of them often played happily together. In their teen years, they had less tolerance of one another and often teased each other to no end, making me crazy with their bickering. It makes me happy to see that Jake has rediscovered he actually likes his sister and that he’ll miss her while she’s away. We’re all growing up a little bit more with this experience.
So it’s going to be an especially quiet weekend for me. Brad is back in Fargo for the school year, but returning in two weeks for the wedding. Mark and Jake are working all weekend and my baby girl will be busy discovering the joys of college life. The quiet inside this house may take some getting used to, but I’ll be okay. I might even be looking forward a little bit to a whole long weekend of doing nothing but what I want and need to do. But still… I sure am looking forward to two weeks from now when it’s noisy and crazy in this house again!