Just for the record, I’ve never really been the father of a college student before.
I’m not sure how this is supposed to go. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to act.
We’ve had some difficult conversations as we’ve wandered through the ideas about Katie leaving home and finding her way in life beyond us. How, where, when, why? Questions simultaneously bitter and sweet on the tongue. Answers weakly discerned and hardly articulated.
Most of the difficulty comes from my own dying. Kids are good for that – helping parents with the dying.
Plenty of me still to go through the dying. Dying to live, dying to live. More of him, less of me. I hope.
Life fights to get out through the dying. I die a little and life bears much fruit. Like giving birth, I suppose. Renee knows.
Like Katie going to college.
So, we visit six schools in five days, far from home, and cry a little and laugh a lot and try to see the path designed for a girl old enough to go but too young to go, searching for the light, the voice, the best cafeteria food, and the comfort of the inspiration.
We grow weary, and use harsh words, feeling the desires and fears, and speaking only the mumblings of the pain of stress and anxiety and the dying. But, we’re bound to each other, bound to the purpose of finding the way together.
So, we don’t stop with the dying, we have to push through to the living. So we dig deeper, discovering the feelings and the real words to describe, and to understand, the struggle, knowing its fountain is life. The muddy silt, stirred by our intrusion and disrupting our vision, will settle again as it flows.
Finally, we get back to the bottom line; the ultimate measure of a college, a life, beyond the pressure of deadlines and tasks, of emotion and dying.
Finally, with tears and weariness, at the bottom of the hole, standing on something firm again, we get back to this: “Honey, please, push everything out of the way, give yourself some space, tell the world to go away, and just find Jesus. He knows. If you find him, if you’re with him, it won’t matter if you know, or if I know, of if you go, or if you stay, or where, or how.”
We say “thanks” and “sorry” words, and “love” words, and “please” words to each other, working at going places we’ve never been before. Our hearts surge and fail, then surge again.
It’s the dying we see and feel and express most often. But it’s the living that matters.
Only the living matters.
I’ve never really done this before – being the parent of a young woman in a far away pursuit of higher education. I’m not sure I’m fit for it.