“It must happen to us all…We pack up what we’ve learned so far and leave the familiar behind. No fun, that shearing separation, but somewhere within, we must dimly know that saying goodbye to safety brings the only security we’ll ever know.” – Ricahrd Bach
For your birthday I bought you a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It wasn’t on your wish list, but it reminds me of you, my ambitious dreamer. I am naively hopeful that maybe you will keep it next to your dorm bed in Michigan. You are likely envisioning a much different dorm vibe.
Forty days. You leave in forty days.
When the three of you were little and I was feeling overwhelmed with the weight of motherhood, I would count how many more years until you, my youngest back then, were eighteen, and I would breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I would only be forty-eight, plenty of time for me to live a life of my own. Then, a decade later, Quinn came along and that whole idea went to hell. Kidding. It just took a happy, scenic route detour. At least that is what we will tell him. Wink with me now, play along!
I am stunned at how quickly eighteen and forty-eight actually did sneak up on me. All three birds, outta the nest. Here I am. There you are. Cream rises, I guess, because despite how hard it all was, you have grown into the most charming, funny, introspective, handsome young man. I credit part of that to my own growth, part to a killer Montessori education, but most of it to you. You have known, since before you had words to articulate it, that this life, this world, was gonna be meaningful for you. Bach writes, “You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.” You, William, have the unique quality of having drive, but of also simply living, being. Maybe it’s your methodical math brain mixed with your creative design brain that makes you tick like that, but if you ask me, it’s your heart.
I love that you know yourself so confidently. I love that you are Lizzie are going to the same college and that you have found a best friend and confidant in her. At eighteen, you are a good listener, a reliable friend, not too cool to watch The Bachelorette with me just so that we can delight in its Twitter feed together. You have an incredible eye for detail (even when you were small you would complain to me about typeset that was off), a natural, enviable sense of humor, an endearing longing for adventure.
Letting go of you comes with its own challenges for me. I know you are seeking a life that includes things like skydiving and pushing your physical limits and I am going to do my best just to let you fly. Bach’s advice: “When you have come to the edge of all the light you have and step into the darkness of the unknown believe that one of the two will happen to you, either you’ll find something solid to stand on or you’ll be taught how to fly.” I love that image … “the edge of all the light you have.” It is how I will continue to imagine you. Glowing, believing, taking leaps, and growing into the vision of yourself that has been there since before time. I am so proud to be your witness.
Happy eighteen my love. Still my caboose. Don’t tell Quinn.
I love you.