It’s Friday morning. I wake much too early considering when I went to bed, BUT today is a big day for our family with a granddaughter moving into her college dorm. That’s today, and luckily she will be only a mile or so from us since we live so close to the campus of her school. That’s a plus, a huge plus, but my daughter (even knowing the distance between her and her daughter won’t be far, about 10 miles) will have a totally different experience today from the one my granddaughter will have. One will be excited beyond words, anxious to start this new chapter in her life, anxious to be on her “own”, anxious to be more independent, anxious for all the things new freshmen are anxious for on days such as this one. In stark contrast, my daughter’s new chapter in her life includes knowing that tonight, after the excitement of the move, there will be no 18-yr-old coming home to bed, no matter what time, and tomorrow morning (probably the hardest part), there will be no one sleeping in that room down the hall where her daughter’s head has lain on the pillow every morning until now, at least unless she was sleeping at a friend’s, our house, or off to soccer camp. How do I know this? The way every grandmother knows. Because I lived it, and for my part I will approach the day with a rueful smile, knowing the undercurrent happening even while furniture is carried into the dorm, while excited smiles are seen on young faces that are sincere and on older faces that are not. The look on parents’ faces will be one of soldiering on, no matter how proud they are of their offspring.
By contrast, before I can make it to the dorm today, I will attend a funeral of a woman who died from Alzheimer’s. She was my parents’ age, but a friend to me as well, and she was one of the liveliest people I knew. She lived a full life, was beloved by all who knew her, and will be remembered for the wit and wisdom she shared with everyone who crossed her path. She will be remembered, but no one will be present at her funeral to remember the day she first moved into her college dorm (unless she has surviving siblings). Here, “the song has ended, but the melody lingers on.” (Berlin)
So today I witness two extremely different landmarks in two lives. Even if one never attends college, never moves into a dorm, there comes that day when one moves from the house that he/she shared with family for all the years before then. For the other landmark, we ALL eventually meet our maker.
Today I witness one woman going home, to another home, her eternal home. And I witness one young woman, my vivacious, energetic, wide-eyed-with wonder granddaughter leaving the home she’s always known for her new one, the temporary one for this part of her journey until she is ready to shed this one, too, like a butterfly sheds a cocoon. She’ll stay until she’s ready to fly, but for now the new dorm will be home. One woman will see where she was going all along and wondered about, as she lived her full and long life, and is ready for the rest that is promised by reaching her true home. The other, younger one will move into this new one, not her final place, but she’s far away from meeting that day and has her full and long life before her, twinkling in her eye.
Blessings to them both, and blessings to the people who love them.