Eileen and I are with Joshua for his first overnight college visit. We're at the University of North Georgia: the Military College of Georgia. The campus is situated in the center of the picturesque mountain town of Dahlonega. Josh is in the barracks tonight. We are not.
Josh has been accepted into the university and the corps of cadets for the fall of 2018. Studying at one of the nation's senior military colleges has been one of our son's lifelong dreams, and here we are on the edge of the promised land. You would think that I would be excited, and I am, but I must tell you that I'm experiencing many other emotions at the same time.
Is Josh ready for college? Of course not. But neither was I when my senior year of high school raced by. It seems like only yesterday we were picking out our boy's school clothes. Now we're talking military apparel, foreign language study (Farsi and Russian, mind you), and specific degree requirements. How did we get here, and why did we have to get here so quickly?
As I write these words, I have no idea what Josh is doing tonight. Is he making new friends? Is he feeling comfortable? Anxious? Lonely? Energized? Is he having any second thoughts? I sure am.
It just hit me. I'm sad. Really sad. I'm not sad because I don't want my son to have all of these new (and wonderful) experiences. I'm sad because of this: from this point on, many of the most significant moments in Josh's life won't include me. That's as it should be, but I can still be sad about it.
I like the nightly tuck-you-into-bed. I like the daily review of "this was cool, Dad, and this was not." I like the family giggles that no one else would even understand. I like to be needed, and I don't even mind hero status, at least on occasion. Can I turn back the clock, please? Can I just turn back the clock?
I think I'll cry tonight, at least for a few minutes.
12:06 a.m. I just got a text from Josh: "Love you, goodnight. See you tomorrow." I can sleep better now. Not great, but better.