You spend the year up sending a child off to college thinking about it all the time. All of the "last times" and big occasions. There is the headache of applying for financial aid and the stress of applying for college, and then it's all over and summer arrives. That last summer home. In most households I assume this summer is spent getting ready for college and thinking about leaving and the excitement of going away and being on your own. This is not most households, and my boy was not most children.
After having worked all last summer right from pretty much the end of school, right up until we started again with only a few days off, The Boy™ suggested maybe I wanted to take this summer off. There was a job prospect that would be starting during the early-to mid summer, and a few weeks off would be a nice break. Then, if I didn't get it, spending the summer with Corey, and having a nice long break would be a refreshing change. I hemmed and hawed over the finances and the worry of it all, and then took his advice and did just that. It was awesome.
He spent the summer working, from his computer at home, and watching episodes of Doctor Who with his sister. He started getting serious about leaving for college about a week before it was time to go. During that week he told me that he was both excited and nervous about leaving, but that he didn't want to talk about it. Respecting his wishes, and knowing that talking isn't his thing (much like his dad), I didn't press. I wanted so badly to have the conversations with him though. To ease his mind, and my own heart. To encourage him and let him know how much we were going to miss him. To remind him that no matter where he goes and what he does, he will always have a home here.
Bringing him to school wasn't as heart wrenching as I thought it would be. I suspect part of it is because for the two summers before this past one, he was off at MIT for a class one of them, and then doing an internship for DYN the next. I also suspect the fact that our arrival coincided with a floor meeting that he had to attend, and we moved his stuff in for him, then met with him briefly the next day after our orientation was done, and his was still in process had something to do with it. I think though, that a big part of it was how happy he was to be there. How excited he was on Saturday morning when we met up with him to be starting the next phase in the adventure that is his life. He was more than ready, and it really made leaving a lot easier.
It has been an adjustment not having him here. Sometimes I think of something funny that I want to share with him, or tell him, and then I have to remember that he's not here. Mail shows up with his name and I have to resist the urge to yell up towards his room to let him know. We've rearranged our seats at the table, and I'm still not used to dinner without his offering his opinion on what we are eating or how his day went. His desk sits empty next to mine, and I'm reminded of our summer together. He would sit there and work, or play his video games, and I would sit there and do my class, or work on other stuff, and it was nice not to be in the office alone. I cleaned his room from top to bottom after he left, and it's weird to go in there to water his aloe and have it still be clean and unruffled. The only signs of life are that the cats have been sleeping on his bed. I think they miss him as much as I do.