Written the afternoon of Saturday, August 22.
I sit in the passenger seat of the same van I’ve ridden in with my family for years. My mom is less than two feet away, driving like she always does, looking like she always does. The fields of Wyoming breeze by outside like they did when we moved to Nebraska almost ten years ago, and like they have when we returned to visit California every summer. The familiar sound of my fingers tapping away on the keyboard fades into the sound of the Supreme Court Audio Files in the CD player. Everything seems normal. But it’s not.
This morning, I said good bye to the place I’ve grown up. But far more painful than that, I said good bye to the people I’ve grown up with. It really started about a week ago. I said a few good byes at church on Sunday. As the week continued, I had a few farewells here and a few there. Some were harder than others, but partings are something that life always brings, and we all knew that we’d see each other again. This morning, I said good bye to my father, my three younger siblings, and two of my closest friends. There were lots of hugs, lots of kind words, and a few tears. Everyone was trying to be strong, though some were more successful than others.
As for me, I managed not to shed a tear while saying good bye. I’m sure I looked miserable enough, but my eyes were dry. Until we drove away. Before mom had gotten off of our block, I was crying hard. Silently, but hard. I cried on and off for the next hour. Once or twice during that time, mom reminded me that this was my last chance to change my mind, that I could go home and drop out. I don’t think she realized just how tempting that was. But I shook my head, unable to speak past my silent sobbing. Now, here I sit, calmly tapping away at the keys. My heart aches. After never being separated from my family for more than a week, I’ve left them for several months. After my best friend and I have been all but inseparable for nine years, we’re going to college a thousand miles away from each other. And every moment takes me farther away from the only life I’ve ever known.
Yet in the middle of all of it, I find a strange sense of peace and joy. I’m going where my Lord has led. The future holds so much hope. I find myself begging God for the strength to let go of the past and let myself enjoy my new life at school. I love so many people back home so deeply, and I know that it will be far too easy for me to slip into loneliness and depression. But I know that the Lord has far better things for me than that. And I know that in Him, I can find the strength to get through.
I miss my family, friends, and church family already, but I know that I’m not alone. My heavenly Father will always be with me. And I know I’ll see those precious faces again. For now, I look back with a smile, grateful for everyone who has helped me to become who I am, and I look forward with a rush of excitement, wondering what God has in store for me next.