Friday morning bright and early, we stood in the very long registration line, which, thankfully, moved very quickly. We breezed through all the checkpoints, got the only thing that Brooke really cared about: her room key, and started the arduous task of moving two teenage girls into one very, very, VERY small space. After rearranging the room about 16 times, they decided that leaving the beds bunked was the best plan after all (mom was right!) and the unpacking began. Surprisingly, both girls had done a pretty good job, and we were able to fit everything in with little frustration. Brooke has been blessed with a great roommate and a great group of girls in her unit/co-unit. She has already made some lifelong friends. God is good!
The rest of Friday was filled with meetings, various orientations, and the Second Generation dinner in the evening. It was wonderful to see so many friends from our days at Cedarville, who now also had sons/daughters coming to college. We had a great time catching up! Brooke decided to spend Friday night in the dorm and we headed back to the hotel--without her. I cried.
Saturday was more meetings, more moving in, and a run to Target for some forgotten necessities. Saturday afternoon was the Class of 2014 dedication service. Dr. Bill Brown spoke to the incoming freshmen (more than 800 of them!) and the sniffling parents. At the end of the service, all the freshmen moved to the center of the auditorium and all the parents made a huge circle around them. Dr. Brown prayed and all the moms cried. At least, this mom did. I was actually standing right next to the balcony railing and I'm quite certain I dripped on the poor man below me, who probably thought the ceiling was leaking!
Saturday night the kids had more orientation stuff and we enjoyed dinner out with dear friends, who also happen to be the parents of Brooke's boyfriend, Adam. (A very cool story for another time.) It was great to spend the evening chatting and laughing and not thinking about the goodbyes that were ahead. We miss you, Steve and Amy!
Sunday morning there was a special worship service on campus, and we went with the kids. I cried again. We went to brunch, Brooke and Adam auditioned for the chorale and band respectively (and both made it!), and then it was time. We had to say goodbye. I have known for 18 years it was coming but that didn't make it any easier. We took some final pictures. Jeff took Brooke aside to give her the "final talk" and I cried. I bawled. The heaving, sobbing kind of crying. The definitely-not-pretty kind of crying. When Jeff finished talking to Brooke, he called me over so we could pray together. That was the hardest thing for me. I sobbed harder. When Jeff was done, I hugged Brooke for as long as I could and then she and Adam walked away. I don't even think she looked back. She didn't shed a tear. She grabbed Adam's hand and off they went. She was ready.
We left for home bright and early Monday morning. I cried when we got in the van and I saw Brooke's half-full water bottle. I cried off and on all the way home. And I have cried every day at least once, up until the past few days. I cried when I folded the laundry and there were only three "kid" piles rather than four. I cried looking at her empty room. I cried packing the box that I had to send to her last weekend.
Life has taken on a new "normal". I knew we would get used to not having her here but it makes me sad that we have. She texts me fairly often, but I don't hear her sweet voice that much or get the details I crave. When I start feeling sorry for myself, I remember that she is busy and having fun, and I am thankful. When she does call, asking me to talk to her while she walks to an unfamiliar building on campus and help her "find" it, I am thankful. She still needs me! When I look at Facebook and see her friends "enjoying" parts of college that I am quite certain I never want Brooke to "enjoy", I am thankful. She is singing in two groups where bringing glory to God through music is the chief goal. She is loving daily chapels with amazing speakers and worship music. She is connecting with new friends through Bible studies and her small group and fun competitions. She is loving her class on developing a christian world view. She signed up to be a big sister to a young girl in town who needs an older mentor. She hasn't had any laundry mishaps!! For all of this, I am so thankful.
We miss you Brooke but we wouldn't have it any other way. We know you are exactly where God wants you to be, and we are eagerly watching for all the amazing things HE will do through you!
|Brooke on "The Rock", a Cedarville tradition|
|Cedarville University Class of 2014|
|Brooke and Adam at the Second Generation Dinner|
|Brooke, Jen, Jeff at the Second Generation Dinner|
|Dad's final words of wisdom|
|Brooke and Adam by Cedar Lake|