Learning to let go

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Over the past 10 years, I have used this editorial space to share personal milestones in my life. I do this, because I believe many of my readers can relate to what I am going through at that particular time in my life. You've been there, done that, and now you can laugh, or cry, along with me as I face those mountains and valleys that make life interesting.

Most recently, I watched as my oldest son drove down the driveway and away from our house headed to his new home at Truman State University in Kirksville. The choice to leave home on his own was Nick's and exemplifies his very independent, first born spirit. All summer I had dreaded the day he would leave for college. My family joked that every meal, every little event, was "Nick's last." Tears were my frequent companion over the summer months as I tried to imagine the Schlichtman household minus one member.

Nothing could prepare me for the emotions I have experienced over the past two weeks since Nick left on Aug. 5. I fought the urge to call Nick several times a day those first few days to find out where he was and how he was doing. Instead, I am learning to wait for him to call me. It's difficult, but as Mike reminded me, if you let him leave freely, he'll come back freely. After he'd been on campus two days, he called to give us an update. I could hear loneliness in the tone of his voice and I nearly fell apart. It was at that point that I began to realize I had to let go and let God take over the situation or I'd never have a moment of peace.

My parents also offered me advice from their experience with sending me off to MU. They said I used to call them crying and then when they called the next day to check on me, I was as happy as could be and could hardly remember what had been wrong the day before. With that in mind, I let a few days pass and low and behold Nick called and began telling me about friends he was making on the soccer team and a great conversation he'd had with his coach. While I tossed and turned and worried about whether or not he'd made the right college choice, he figured out how to cope on his own.

The process of letting go is harder than it sounds, but every day I remind myself that Nick is a young adult now and he's busy pursuing his dreams. I know he prayed about his college choice and he is where he believes God wants him to be. Mike and I have also prayed for him since the day he was born and now it's time for us to display our faith and trust completely in God's perfect plan for our son's future. I must give Mike credit where credit's due. He's doing a lot better job of letting go than I am, but I am making progress.

This weekend, I finally had the opportunity to visit Nick on campus. After living for two weeks in a house with members of the soccer team, he moved into his dorm room on Saturday. Mike and I went up to help him and also participated in various freshman parent activities. When I saw Nick driving up the road to meet us on Saturday, my heart felt as if it would leap from my chest. He stepped from the car and looked so happy and entirely relaxed. He was suntanned and smiling and he already looked a little older. I hugged him tight and suddenly felt a peace fill me. I could tell instantly that Nick was adjusting to college life just fine and was enjoying his new freedom.

We did the typical parent thing. We walked around campus, bought Nick dinner, took him shopping and then hid behind a dumpster and watched some of his soccer practice. On Sunday evening, before heading home, we were able to watch the Truman soccer team in an exhibition match. We sat in the stands and picked out Nick. Instead of black and gold and the #5, Nick was wearing white and purple and the #15. As the game began, Nick was seated with his teammates on the bench. He watched the game intently, turning occasionally to share a laugh with another player and then focusing his attention back to the field, completely satisfied with being a member of the team. With 20 minutes left in the first half, we saw Nick rise from the bench and begin warming up on the sideline. Just a minute or two later, he had a brief conversation with the coach and then stood at the center of the field waiting for the official to signal for a substitution. I saw Nick run onto the field, anxious to get that first touch on the ball. At that moment, I realized that I was witnessing the fulfillment of a dream. Once again, I was reminded that God was in control, He had a plan and Nick and I would be just fine.