My son left home just the other day. The inevitable result of 20 years of preparing him for a life of his own.
There was no preparation, however, for the empty feeling left in the house, even though we knew it was going to come.
A baby arrived – in the usual way, to quote Harry Chapin – nearly 20 years ago. Two first-time parents nervously set him on the couch, wondering if we couldn’t possibly take him back to the hospital where he was sure to be safer.
But we got used to him and he us and for years it was a love affair undiminished by messy diapers, cluttered bedrooms and broken toys.
Held hands, snuggles in bed and quiet times spent reading stories and playing games cemented the bond between parents and child. As he grew he tested boundaries, learned respect and learned to return love unequivocally.
A personality developed and a soul evolved. The man that was all-too-soon to be was already securely entrenched in the body of a boy getting his hands muddy, his feet wet and his skin nicked and marked by a world that was his playground.
My son benefited from knowing only one home in his life. Unlike my wife and I who moved frequently as children, our child never moved from a little rancher in Willow Point.
He was joined in love by a sister and our little quartet discovered the joy that is a family who have had the blessing of stability and security. Health challenges came to his sister but the little man was always there for her, proving his lessons of compassion and love were securely entrenched. Early signs pointing to a caring spirit were to be proven and re-proven.
A cheerful attitude that never dwelled too long on the bad stuff also became a hallmark. He never held a grudge for very long and disagreements were forgotten in minutes.
An imagination that could create a whole new world was given full rein in an intelligent and creative mind. At times it was hard to follow where his creative impulses had flown. When he was in the natural world, his wonder and appreciation for life and living things poured out.
He learned responsibility, spirituality and the importance of community. He took an interest in the world and valued everybody. He was also offended by injustice and shows signs that his mild manner could be fired up by the need to set things right.
So, with those skills and traits as his suit of armor, we set him on a plane the other day; his parents, once again, nervous about this new phase. He had committed himself to a two-year mission with his church and left knowing his biggest shield is the knowledge his family loves him.