And this began to take place:
I could hardly stand to watch.
The night prior to leaving for Africa, we hugged before she went off to sleep for her last night in her own bed. I utilized the quiet dark hours to finish some packing and I happened to stop in the dimmed light of the room the girls share. Where she slept, her end of the room bare but for her sleeping heap.
I stood there for a minute in the dark remembering long conversations on the end of that bed. Tears over boys. Laughter over friends. Frustrations over piles. Excitement over successes. Worries over illnesses. Conversations between sisters. Music danced to. Books read and read to. Musical instruments practiced. Early morning grumbles. Late night hilarity. Wet towels left on floors. Makeups destroyed by sisters. Homework late nights. Slumber partying friends.
A room that had seen loneliness, longing, laughter and love.
This man's elated smile over her next phase of life couldn't quite lift the rest of us.
Eliza was having a very difficult time holding it together.
As we walked down her dorm hallway, I kept saying to myself, "She lives here now. She lives here now."
I'd lived in the same dorm complex and it was surreal to be standing in the same place that eighteen year old me had stood. I knew that feeling. Excited to let go. Ready for adventure. Eager to cut some apron strings.
He was so excited, I think he wanted to go too.
As we drove away, I felt everything well up. How would I live without her? Who would I talk to? Who would laugh at my bad jokes? Life would never feel complete again.
We drove to where we were staying not too far away and I let the loss of her sink in.
Not an hour passed before I received a text that she had left her driver's license in the car and could we drop it by the dorm on our way out of Utah the following day.
I wasn't sure how my heart could handle saying goodbye again.
The next morning we packed to head for home and texted arrangements to meet Celia at the dorm following her earliest classes. Our car pulled up in the parking lot and we called her to come out and retrieve her left behind items so we wouldn't have little people tangled up back in the dorm hallways.
She exited the building with a spring in her step and her backpack over her shoulder. Her hair was curled, makeup done, and cutest outfit on. Her smile from ear to ear outshone the whole of it.
I jumped out of the car to the sidewalk. "How's the first day?" I asked with only a moment before I knew she needed to head to a class.
"It's GREAT!" She said beaming. "Last night my roommate and I went to a family home evening ice cream social and we met some cute boys and then my class this morning was so good and I think I'm really going to love theater and I met some really nice girls in the class and afterward we went to the commons for some lunch and this boy came over and talked to us and he asked for my number before he left and I have a date for Friday night!" **deep breath and grin**
I hugged her tight and handed her the valuables. I climbed back into the car and we issued our traditional departure before turning for home.
And this time, not a tear was shed because she flew and my heart flew with her.