May 2009: Nate, my youngest child and only son, and I climbed in my Pontiac Vibe for the two-day drive from our home in Orlando to far west of the Mississippi for freshman orientation at Oklahoma Christian University (Edmond).
August 2009: We drove to OC again. This time I drove home alone. How much I missed him.
Fast forward to this past weekend.
You see, Nate graduated this past April with a bachelor’s degree in sports administration. His college days are over.
Sunday: Nate and I attended the church where he has been interning this past summer as a youth minister.
Monday: We packed up both his Camry and my Vibe with all his worldly belongings and returned to Memphis.
This morning: We hugged goodbye, and I stood at the top of the hill as he headed back to Florida for his first post-college job, a youth ministry in Fort Myers.
How much I miss him.
But in a different way.
Nate is stepping on a new path with well-grounded values, maturity, and a laidback calm that comes from being a southern boy with two older sisters. Not much ruffles him up. You bet I’m proud of him.
Like his sisters, Nate is crossing a threshold into the grown-up world of independence and his career path.
For me, it’s the recognition of a subtle shift in our relationship. I’ll always be his mom, always available with advice, a hug, and even a hand-out if he truly needs it. But he’s definitely his own person, truly responsible for his own decisions.
Life as it should be.
I miss the little boy he was, and I am so very proud of the young man he is.
I love you, Nate.