I think the dog may be more in tune with the reality of what's happening than I am. After all, Harry is not running around buying socks, shampoo, x-long twin sheets for those famously uncomfortable extra long beds in the dorms. Instead he is lying on my bed, half asleep,half mourning all the commotion, looking like a sweet lamb in a bit of distress.
The dining room table is our Grand Central: that's where lists and bags and more bags of stuff are being stored. That, and Alex's room- which is quickly filling up with more duffel bags of clothes and books and assorted things. We are packing up our son as if he is going off to the wilderness for four years. I am too busy managing and shopping and making lists to pay attention to what I may feel later...when he is gone.
The plan is this: early (very early) Wednesday morning, Bill will be doing last minute packing of the car (I already know this). Then Alex will wake up in a fog,put in his contacts, and root around the house looking for last minute things. Abby will get up last, and smile at me in anticipation of the adventure ahead: she is going also. There is a college connection type of day camp going on at the same time as the freshman orientation. She is going to take part. It is going to be a whirlwind of activity for the three of them for three days. And I will be here at the house, soothing Harry with lots of murmuring, "It's going to be alright" and lots of sighing- both his and mine.
For the five days Bill and Abby will be gone(three days in Kentucky settling Alex in and then two days traveling home), I will be wandering around this house in total peace and quiet. I intend to pray a lot, take Harry on lots of walks, read, and look out the window while my mind flashes back to the days when I was so needed in my son's life.
There's a bit of joy and peace I have in releasing him to his future because I do feel I have done all I could do in "launching" him. He would tell you, also, that there has been no shortage of words, on my part, no lack of admonitions, warnings, and reminders. I could wish that I had hugged him more these last couple years, but even there it seems that young men need fewer hugs and more looks of love, instead; the kind of look that says, "I want to hug you so badly right now but instead I'll look at you with such pride. You're a strong young man,...and I'm so glad you're my son."
My son will tell you that I give him all kinds of looks- those looks of love, looks of frustration, looks that yell out in warning, "That's one more box of hair coloring that you owe me!" every time he has turned me gray with worry. I think he may miss the looks I give him most of all. He certainly knows that I will call him a lot and we'll talk by phone.
But as for the look on my face when we're talking, he will have to imagine what that is. Most of the time it will be a look that says, "I'm missing you so much right now...but I wouldn't wish that you were home. You are right where you are supposed to be. And that makes me smile. " After all, tears and smiles go together quite frequently. At least in this household they do.