Mike had an early morning flight to New Orleans, where he is scheduled to teach training sessions and call on customers for the next few days. By 4:20 he is showered, dressed, and out the door. I can tell that he is hesitant to leave and the words left unspoken between us are many.
The next time I see him will be when I pick him up at the San Antonio airport. By then I will have delivered both sons to their respective college campuses and life as we now know it will be altered.
A mere few hours later and Nate and I are staring down two loaded-to-capacity vehicles. His Mustang and our van.
I wave him good-bye, telling him I'll be just a little way behind him on the highway. The truth, though, is that I could use just a few more minutes to acclimate to the coming hours and days.
Today is moving day for Nate and, by the looks of everything that is carefully packed and stacked into our cars, he is ready. Releasing him to another year away at school is somewhat easier this year. He has one year under his belt and the adjustment period for him will be minor, I know.
And yet my mother's heart feels tight and constricted within my chest. I slowly down a final cup of coffee, check last minute emails and - basically - stall the inevitable. It's time for me to climb behind the wheel and make the three hour drive to deliver the furniture and help Nate settle into what has become his life.
A life I am immensely proud of, even as I swipe at tears and will my worries to vacate the premises. He is no longer a child, but a capable, strong, and intelligent young man. He's made numerous references this summer to the internships he looks forward to next summer and I know - though I may try so hard to ignore it - that life is shifting for us all. Nate is claiming his future, taking responsibility and working toward something that he is passionate about.
For this I am grateful.
Once behind the wheel, I pull through Sonic for that crucial Diet Coke, stick in my new favorite CD, crank up the volume, and hit the highway. By the time I'm on the long stretch between home and the campus that has become a second home to this family, I'm snapping my fingers and bee-bopping my head to the music blasting inside the van and coursing through my heart. This is what I'm singing along to.
I pull into College Town a few hours later, with a renewed happy heart and a secure knowledge that my life - and the lives of those I love - is in the best possible care ever.
My Father's hands.