We left as it was barely dawn. After a series of perfect summer days we had a downpour of rain, forcing us to run windshield wipers on high and drive with extreme caution.
The evening before was smooth as can be as boxes, containers, suitcases and clothes of all sorts on hangers were passed through an open window out to our car parked in our small, concrete space at the back of the apartment. City living at its most efficient.
Senior year. She’s off to her senior year of college. And we have seen so much growth in the last few years. This is my “do it afraid” girl. She is afraid but she does it anyway. All her life she has been like this. “Mom, I’m so scared.” “I know. I know you are.” I always hug her tight, so tight. But she does it anyway. Even afraid. It’s one thing to do things when you’re confident, entirely another to do them afraid.
Many of her friends have already graduated and are off to graduate school, the working world, or unemployment. She took a gap year, choosing to spend the year following high school graduation in a program in Italy and Turkey.
But now its her senior year. I well remember the pack of potential and the cute pair of shoes we packed up so long ago.
So we head off through the rain, stopping for coffee half way through the trip, arriving in Brooklyn as it stopped raining. A 6th floor studio apartment shared with another college student will be her home for the next nine months.We oooh and aaah over her roof top view – Lady Liberty to the left, the Empire State Building to the right. It’s incredible. We partially unpack, head out to get some supplies and food, and back to the apartment to hang white lights, that ‘must have’ for making her feel at home.
I take a few pictures, feel satisfied that she has a comfy chair to sit in and reflect, to hear the quiet and we hug her and head off, our car rattling with empty.
This parenting thing – it vacillates between easy and hard. The minute they are born our hearts are exposed, easy targets for hurt, pain, anger, and suffering. But also open vessels for joy, laughter, pride, and amazement. They all go together, mixed up so well that you know you can’t have one without the other. And so it is more precious.
And as I say goodbye to this pack of potential, my mind wanders to another part of the world where parents are holding tight to children as rockets fly, where other parents wander through a mountain region, desperate to give water to quench the thirst, to soothe the parched lips of their children. They too have packs of potential but those packs of potential are not given a chance.
I don’t feel guilt, rather I beg for mercy. Guilt never helped anyone. Mercy and grace help millions every day.
So as I say goodbye to my fourth child as she starts her final year of college, I beg for mercy and grace for those a world away, whose hearts are exposed, easy targets for those who perpetrate evil. And I beg for mercy for those who do it afraid.
Lord have mercy on the children of the world.