It's been quite a week.
After leaving Luke at International Student Orientation, we drove back to Virginia Tuesday, and took Caleb to the plane on Thursday. Fifteen year old lanky cheery Caleb hugged us and waved as he passed through the Dulles checkpoint to face the intense security gate lines alone. It was his first solo international trip, and we were in communication darkness until he landed in Nairobi (1 minute call and his battery died) and then got to RVA today. Thankful he made it, was placed in Luke's old dorm (his first choice). Trying out for choir and the soccer team, adjusting his class schedule, working through incompatible class desires (no Swahili 2 if you take AP Chem, and that sort of issue), health check, etc., on his own. Well, not really, there is a fantastic staff at RVA who organize and shepherd. But it's a pretty big step to arrive for the new year, move into the dorm, reshuffle classes, and begin life, with no parental support. I'm amazed at my own kids. This was not the easiest month, grieving the loss of home (and dog!) and jumping into the "show's on" aspect of meeting our churches and friends, catching up on the perennial sleep deficits of boarding school and time zone change, returning without family or even big brother. Caleb has a well-honed and quirky sense of humor, so if he can hold onto that, he'll be fine.
And that's why perhaps today, driving away from Yale where we left Luke, I'm more peaceful than moms of freshman are supposed to be. Because we've done this for the last two years, and no time is as hard as the first time.
In fact by the time we got up in the dark early early Friday morning and drove back north to New Haven, Luke had already moved into his dorm room , organized his living space, been to all the sign here-do this lines for freshmen. So we could just visit, walk in the spectacular cloudless sunshine to the famous "Bulldog Burritos" and hear about the week. Luke is his own person, confident about what he does not need, pursuing simplicity and truth in a place that suspects both. It was good to see him relatively at ease in the parent-social context, answering questions and making conversation at the various open houses and receptions, messaging suite-mates and introducing us around. When we passed by the voter registration table the students tried to rope him in, until he said he wouldn't be 18 'til February. Oh. Yale is a far cry from RVA, about 2000 courses from which to choose 5, 1344 freshmen in 12 residential colleges, and I can't even begin to imagine the number of organizations and options. So many options. One rather young kid there in an epicenter of the academic world, on his own. But ready.
So two boys are off, launched, left. And though it feels very unknown to me, all future is equally so. And equally not so, because the void is really occupied by the One whose essence is Love. Both boys are in places I did not imagine a few years ago, but doors opened and money was provided and favor found, and they are blessed to be taking steps into adulthood in two fantastic schools. Both are young men I'd choose to meet and spend time with even if they weren't my kids, talented and insightful and honest and challenging and world-aware and smart. And as we drive away thinking about them and the void, I know what both would say.