It was the day I had been dreading for 18 and a half years.
College drop-off day.
All summer, we had prepared for this moment. We made Target runs. We bought sheets, cleaning supplies, organizing containers and even a toilet plunger. We had long discussions about the dangers and fun times ahead in college. We had special suppers and vacations, and we let our son spread his wings more than normal this summer.
The day before the big move, we packed clothes and shoes and sorted through all the belongings he had accumulated over the past 18 years. I fought back tears at moments throughout the day, like when I came across the little green army man still hiding in his closet. I have been avoiding songs by Kenny Chesney (“Don’t Blink” and “There Goes My Life”) and any other song that might evoke emotion.
The morning of the dreaded day, I shed a few tears after I woke up and then a few more when my husband listened to one of those sad songs on CMT’s Throwback Thursday.
“Hold it together,” I kept telling myself.
I heard the familiar sounds of my son getting ready in the basement bedroom below me, and I thought about how much I would miss hearing him each morning and his hug each night. More tears.
He took his brother and sister to school so he could say his goodbyes there instead of in front of us. About 15 minutes before we planned to leave, I secured our yellow lab outside in his kennel hoping I wouldn’t have to witness the long goodbye to the dog. A few minutes later my son asked where the dog went and proceeded outside for one last cuddle, conveniently out of my sight.
My husband then gave him some last-minute tips on changing tires and other manly things out in the driveway, while I scanned the storage room one more time looking for any items we forgot to pack. My eyes stopped on the framed baby picture stashed on top of the scrapbook supplies in the corner. There was my little cherub’s sweet face at four months old in a frame with a Bible inscription below:
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked.” 1 Samuel 1-27.
The floodgates opened.
I thought about all the years we prayed for this child. Years of sitting in our empty nursery wondering when or if we would ever be parents.
And, now 18 years had already passed. We experienced it all from sleepless baby nights to sleepless teen-ager nights, fevers, diaper changes, messy rooms, messy kisses, good-night stories and hugs, sitting in bleachers, broken arms (yes, that’s plural), home runs, rain and rainbows. We enjoyed the front seat view of watching this boy grow into a funny, handsome and faithful young man.
We wouldn’t have experienced any of this without our prayer being answered by a young girl, just barely older than our son is now. She wasn’t ready to be a mom, but was pregnant. We were ready. Our lives connected, and her baby became ours.
Through her tears, she generously and lovingly chose to let him go 18 years ago. Here is what she wrote on her Facebook page on our son’s 18th birthday:
“I was 18 when I found out I was pregnant and would be 19 when I gave birth. I chose to give my untimely gift to a couple who couldn’t have their own child. Something deep inside of me knew these two people were meant to be parents and my son was meant to be their first born. Over the last 18 years, I have watched this baby boy grow into a handsome young man. I have seen him experience things and do things I would have never been able to give him. I chose right 18 years ago!”
We are eternally grateful for her choice. And through our tears, it’s now our turn now to lovingly let him go into the world to experience his next great adventure.