My oldest son moved away a few months ago. It was kind of a shock to the whole family. We knew he had been thinking about it, but how it all came about was still a surprise. Our family had chosen December 29th 2013 as our designated, "gift giving day". We choose a different day every year and this was it. We had gotten up early to open presents and I made a huge breakfast. I couldn't remember the last time all six of us had actually sat down together for breakfast. We laughed and talked with one another. It was such a great way to start the day. My 11 year old son commented, that we should make the big breakfast a family tradition for "present day" I told him, that I agreed with him wholeheartedly and was proud that he felt that way. I snapped a few photos and soaked in the scenes. I had no idea how special that moment in time would become.
We finished up breakfast, got the kitchen cleaned and watched the boys interact with their gifts. My oldest announced that he had a few errands to run and would be back later. I told him that I hoped he wouldn't be gone long because his grandmother was coming over for a visit. The day progressed as usual and my husband laid down for a nap. He had just finished his 24 hour shift at the firehouse that morning. A few hours later, my son returned home. He asked if could he speak with me. I followed him down the hallway toward his room. We stopped right outside his bedroom door and he uttered the sentence that changed the course of the entire day. "I found a place". "You found an apartment?", I asked. "Yep", he replied. I am pretty sure my mind went totally blank for a moment and that my mouth was hanging open. I quickly recovered and could only say, "Wow". The next question I asked was, "When are you moving?" He said, "Today".
I was dumbfounded. "Today?" You come home, tell me you found a place and that you are leaving Today?? None of this was said aloud of course, but I was surely thinking it. Who does that? I was sad and proud at the same time. Proud that he had done what he had set out to do, but sad that he had shut us out. Not that I wanted to go with him and look at apartments or anything, but sad that he felt he had to keep it all a secret. He went in his room and starting putting his things in a bag. I went in the living room and woke my husband to tell him the news. I think his exact words were, "Get the hell out of here!" "Seriously?" "Wow!" We stared at each other for a quick minute and then he jumped up to go see if his ears had heard me correctly.
Yep, our 23 year old son was moving. We both knew this day would come, we just really weren't prepared for it to be that day. He didn't have any food, furniture, or even a bed. But, at that moment I realized that none of that was in my hands anymore. My son was now a man and that man was moving on. My heart and mind raced, A million thoughts and questions flooded my head. I thought back to that seriously ill child that couldn't even take a breath on his own at birth. That sweet baby that stayed in the NICU for two weeks on respirators and heart monitors. That little boy who had beaten so many odds throughout his life was moving away from his family and setting out on his own. I watched him pack his things into his car and drive away. The years had gone by so quickly. In just a few hours,our family of six had gone to five. No long drawn out goodbyes or tearful hugs. He wasn't that kind of a guy...anymore. He had grown a bit distant in recent years and just ready to do his own thing and we had to let him. I said a prayer that God would continue to watch over him. I did tell him before he left that, I was proud of him and that no matter what, wherever we were, he would always have a home.