*Originally published in the 2020 September Issue of Southwest Farm Press.
We've known since March that our oldest child's memories will forever be marked by COVID-19. "We're the class that had the last half of our senior year canceled." Or, "My class graduated at the drive-in theatre wearing masks and sitting feet apart."
But what we didn't anticipate in March is that this would extend into the fall. "We're the class that started college wearing masks and taking most of our classes online, though we lived on campus."
It's not the worst plight but definitely different than we imagined 18 years ago. I just hope the virus doesn't spread and the students get to stay on campus. Time will tell.
My daughter is majoring in agricultural communications. My farmer and I joke with her that this is the perfect major for her because he's her "ag," and I'm her "com," which likely draws a heavy eye-roll. The truth is she'll do just fine on her own, we just need to think we're still needed!
Since the end of May, entry into our daughter's bedroom has been limited, as graduation gifts earmarked for the dorm lined the walls and a narrow pathway. From pillows to wall décor to laundry baskets to a comforter, all carefully stacked in anticipation of the big move. Our Little, who has shared a bedroom with her since birth, likely had nightmares of these items coming to life and overtaking her twin bed.
As we packed up my daughter's belongings, I felt the ache. What I discovered is it wasn't loading all the gifts that tugged. It was the items that have decorated her dresser shelves or overflowed out of bathroom drawers littered with glitter from years of pep rallies and football games that struck a chord.
I would think I was handling all of this well, and then she'd say, "Do you care if I take this?" I would begin with an assured "no" that would quickly break into a hard swallow and then tears.
I told her my tears aren't, "Don't go," rather, "Mom, let go." Moving out, growing up. Empty spaces. It's good. It's right. But it's hard.
As we hauled boxes into her fourth-floor room and began to unpack, the gifts that didn't trigger tears, reminded me of our community. Each gift had a family or individual connected to them, some immediate family and out-of-town friends, but mostly our little rural town. I thought about the love and encouragement she's grown up with from so many here. It's amazing what an impact a population of 2,000 (on a good day) can have on a life.
She's beginning a new chapter. And my farmer and I couldn't be more thankful for the deep roots she has in Olton, Texas. We're grateful for her foundation and thankful, that no matter where life takes her, she will always have a place to call home.