I received a phone call this morning from my friend Chris from the Bay Area, CA. He didn’t sound as perky as usual. He didn’t give me time to guess. He proceeded to tell me that he is in tears and crying like a baby. He dropped his daughter to college today and couldn’t stop crying. He told me that I’m the only one who can relate to him since I did the same with my son a few months ago.
My son is a freshman in College. It was August 19th when we dropped him to his dorm room at Biola university in Southern California. Although it is only 30 miles away from our home, it was a big deal for us. Regardless of how far he is from us, It is a mile stone in our life. Our first baby is leaving home. He is gone. Home is not the same. Something is missing. Someone is missing. Although he spent many days in his room on his phone the entire Senior year in high school, but he was home. I knew he was home.
The room is empty now. He is gone. He is on his own. The University didn’t make it any easier on us. It gave us a day to spend preparing his dorm room. His mom bought enough stuff to furnish a 3-story hotel. There was just enough room to sleep and to walk from the bed to the door. He needed a 4-car garage to store all the stuff his mom bought him. I envy her. She showed her love and emotions by preparing his room and shopping with him. I didn’t know how to show mine. I showed my love by repeating the statement: “Here’s a check for the tuition, Here’s a credit card to use in an emergency. Here spending money. Call me before you run out.” It was all monetary. I remembered the song, Money can’t buy me love by the Beatles but it can hopefully express it!
The next day, the school did a communion night. That’s when you break bread with your child, pray for them and let them go. How terrible and mean is that? I think the school wanted to prove that parents like me who don’t cry, will cry that day.
Thousands of parents were praying and crying with their kids. It looked like a mass funeral. Each family crying for their loved one. Girls hugging their dads while moms are standing close by wondering where they went wrong; Boys hugging their moms while dads stood there trying to hold the tears.
We said our goodbyes and we thought it was over, but the emotional roller-coaster just began.
We got in the car and drove away. It was quiet in the backseat. John is not fighting or dancing with his sisters. A tear came down my cheek. It felt like returning a leased car that you had for a long time and then…..walking home.
That is what our kids are. A leased car we got from the Dealer Himself, God. He blessed us and allowed us to lease them: take care of them, maintain them, feed them, protect them and wash them, but they are still His. It is His job to protect them, to guard them and do for them what we cannot do ourselves as parents.
After having the leased car for a while, we forget that it is not ours. That we need to return it someday. Someone else will lease them after that. Their spouses.
I wish it was easier. I wish the school would’ve handed us a new baby to raise after we dropped our John to college. “Here is a new one. Raise him and bring him back in 18 years.”
And these are the words I used to comfort my friend Chris. I hope they are a comfort to you as a parent who sent his child to college, to the military, or a parent who is about to do that.
Remember. They are a lease. They belong to the Dealer who knows more about them than you do. He knows their value and cares about keeping them in optimum shape than we do.