Over the weekend we took Sophie to BYU.
That sentence stares at me from the screen, leaving me blank in terms of what to add. I can say I'm deeply grateful, excited for her, and filled with the peace which comes from knowing God is near and over all. But I can also say these past few weeks have been shaky in unexpected ways...feeling fine one moment and then, without warning, plunged into an awareness of impending change, of something so dear and elemental not quite leaving, yet still dislodging from its usual place in my heart.
As we drove to Utah, however, I felt calm in much the same way I felt while driving to Canada to visit my dad in the hospital...it wasn't an innate calm but rather one which came to me through the kindness of others, through friends who remembered me in texts and emails, thoughts and prayers.
That awareness made all the difference. It was like an ocean wave propelling me forward, lending strength, grounding me in the goodness of the moment, assuring me this could be done.
If you are someone who happened to wish me well during that time, I'm telling you: it worked.
It helped that I got to spend time with my sister while we were there.
It also helped that Sophie's excitement to begin this new chapter of life was nearly palpable.
Throughout the weekend as we set up her dorm room and walked around campus, purchasing textbooks and locating classrooms, I was reminded of Sophie's very first day of school when she jumped out of the car and started running down the sidewalk, her enormous backpack dangling from her shoulders. I was struggling with my emotions, struggling to get Caroline out of her carseat, and felt aghast my little girl would take off like that without me. Didn't she need to hold my hand? Didn't she need me to walk her into the school? Didn't she need me to be her shield and protector??
I called out, my voice catching, feeling both ridiculous and panicked at once. Sophie turned around, her eyes wide and face bright, exclaiming, "Oh, Mum, I just can't wait to see what's ahead!"
I've reflected many times on that moment, as it has been a template for Sophie's life. She is independent, forward facing, and engaged. I've spent the last seventeen years trying to catch up.
And so we are all moving forward, as there seems to be no alternative. I don't think Izzy and Caroline anticipated the reality of the situation until it was upon them; it didn't quite click until the last actual hug. It was a tough moment, but I see their relationships will grow in new ways, with added appreciation. The house feels different now, the dinner table is set with one less place. Winnie is more loved than ever, especially, I think, by my husband.
Yesterday I went for a run in the desert. With all my acknowledgements of faring well, it felt uncommonly good to face the sun, breathe the air, and fling myself into the middle of nowhere, to feel the old, ancient magic which has always beckoned me out of doors, into my secret places to be alone, wild, and free.