The suitcase is almost packed and sits open on the floor beside some last treasured books that may (or may not) fit. Passport and other important documents are laid out, the most important pieces to the trip. He checked in online and now it’s just a matter of waiting and last-minute pieces.
My youngest is leaving home.
It’s one more punctuation mark in my life – not a comma, not a semicolon, not a question mark, but a fat exclamation mark typed in Boldface font and repeated for emphasis.
He is the surprise that marked my 35th year of life. He is the blithe spirit who only recently came into his own. He is the one who chides me when I walk too fast. He is the one who loves being served coffee in bed. He is the one who knows just when to hug all the others in the family. He is the baby.
And he will go to my favorite terminal and board a flight for London tonight at 7:25 pm for a take-off at 8:05 pm. His destination is Oxford where he will read a lot of books, walk hallowed halls and hopefully have some fish and chips in the process.
It is exciting. This is his time — time to learn more on his own, to budget a meager allowance, to not be served coffee in bed. So we’ll hug hard and tight, pray harder, and send him off to a world that needs blithe, a world that could use more hugs. a world that doesn’t always have exclamation points.
I’ve had commas and dashes, ampersands and a lot of question marks in my life, but every time one of my kids leaves it’s an exclamation mark and today is no exception.
So Jonathan – Goodbye and Godspeed.
- The Imagined Lives of Punctuation Marks (theatlanticwire.com)
- 5 Sentences Repaired by Correct Use of Commas (dailywritingtips.com)
- The history of the exclamation point… (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)