Monday, August 19, 2013

A Not-a-farewell Farewell

I was already awake when the sun peaked it's happy glow over the Wasatch Mountains. Though I've never been a great sleeper, as of late, I find myself wide awake well before the dawn. Even if it hadn't been summer, and even if I'd had some early morning appointment to be to, I have no need for an alarm clock. My mind, though not specifically being weighed down by any one thought, is a flutter with what feels like a million things to do.

He still needs an umbrella... will his shoes really be waterproof? And bedding. We still haven't decided what to do about bedding? Should he buy a pillow there? Or take a comfortable one from home? I wonder if his suitcase is too big. Is it possible to be too big? Lot's of people coming today... is he ready? Am I ready? Got to frost the cupcakes. Did the bathroom get cleaned? Do we have enough chairs? Enough food? Should I make more cookies? 

I glance at the clock: nearly 7:30. My mind has been going in circles for three long hours. Time to get moving. So much to do.

I roll over and snuggle into my husband. Sleep doesn't seem to allude him. I have a moment of jealousy, wishing I too could sleep a little longer. How is he so calm?

A set of soft eyes open and smile at me. I know I've woken him. I also know that I should let him sleep in. It is the Sabbath, afterall, and our church meetings don't start until 1:00 pm. He could easily growl at me and I'd understand. Just because I'm up at the crack of dawn, doesn't mean he needs to be too. Instead, he greets me with a warm embrace and a cockeyed grin. "Today's the big day," he sighs.

We've spent the last two weeks making physical preparations: baking cupcakes and cookies, making salads, cleaning the house, making sure his friends and our family members have received an invite. We use to refer to this day as a "Mission Farewell" but in recent years it has been changed to an "opportunity to speak prior to leaving on a mission." What formerly was an occasion for the departing missionary as well as his/her family to speak in sacrament meeting is now an opportunity for the missionary and another member of the ward to speak. I'm not sure how I feel about the seeming downgrade. I have a lot to say about my testimony of the Savior and the wonderful opportunity my son has to serve the Lord. Of course, I typically have a lot to say about everything! My husband, on the other hand, expresses his gratitude for what he considers an "upgrade."

As we discuss the reality of the day - the magnitude of what it represents - both of our eyes cloud with tears. Our son will be leaving in just over two weeks. We will send him off a boy and the next time we see him, HE WILL BE A MAN! Things will never be the same again. We take a minute to mull it over, holding each other tightly. Physical preparation is one thing, but emotional preparation seems merely a fantasy.

"Thanks for making my cry," I softly slug his shoulder.

"You started it," he smirks.

"Did he let you read his talk?" I ask. I'd made the offer to look over it but, in typical eighteen-year-old fashion, he declined, claiming he had it under control.

"Nope," my husband blinks. My nerves do the Fandango. Oh, dear, I think. This could be bad... or, good. I play it over in my head. Maybe I should offer again. - I don't.

I stand in my closet in a daze. Nothing seems to fit quite right anymore. Last fall I was in the best shape of my adult life, and now I'm probably at my worst. The last few weeks alone have left me with an extra ten pounds of stress around my middle.

I choose my polka-dot dress. My husband says it's his favorite. That's good enough for me.

The mirror bears another harsh side effect of my stress: a pimple... okay, who are we kidding? When there is one, there is at least two! Aren't I too old for this?

The morning goes by with beautiful smoothness. There is a feeling of peace that, honestly, has been missing in recent weeks. I embrace it.

I help the girls do their hair. My eleven year old, admitting that he's going to miss his older brother, decides to where a suit coat to church even though it's going to be near 100 degrees outside. It's a special day.

We take bets on who will drop the first tear. I'm typically not a crier, so my money is on my husband. The kids pool their bets on grandma...

We arrive at church early to save seats for our visiting family members. Some are already in the pews and by the time the meeting starts the chapel is full. Afraid of impending tears, I hesitate to look back to see just how far into the overflow we've gone. Without even looking I can feel the overflowing love. My husband takes a peak over his shoulder. The overflow is full all the way back to the stage. There is standing room only. - It's a good thing he doesn't tell me this til after the meeting. I do, after all, have a no-crying bet to win!

As I watch my son on the stand, something happens. The boy who'd rolled his eyes at me not 18 hours earlier, seems to instantly morph into a man. There's a squareness in his chin I've never recognized before. A confidence in his eyes. A surety in his posture. I hope it's not for show. I hope all these people didn't come to hear him make a fool of himself... maybe I should've read through his talk.

But, the feeling doesn't last long. Instead, I'm overcome with peace. Look at him up there. So grown up. So handsome. So ready...

Following the two previous speakers, he takes his spot at the pulpit. As soon as he opens his mouth, the spirit touches me. He is ready. Though many try to give my husband and I credit for the spectacular young man our son has become, I can't but help to recognize that his preparation is not because of our efforts alone. It truly has been a village that has raised our son: dedicated Primary Teachers, committed Youth Leaders, outstanding Seminary teachers, Sunday School  grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, employers.. And, many of them fill the room. He has been blessed with an abundance of great influences and examples. He is ready.

Following his talk - a great sermon on obedience - I'm happy to report that my eyes were still dry. There was a close moment or two, but all my mascara remained in tact. My husband too kept it together. The kids should've gone double down on grandma.

Our house filled quickly and very snuggly with well-wishing friends and family. The cupcakes, cookies, and salads were happily consumed. Many hugs were dealt, many laughs shared. And, as I fell into bed at the end of the day, I realized just how blessed we are to be a part of this work. The next two years may hold a few more stress induced pimples, but in the end, they will be worn with pride. I am grateful to be a part of this work. I am grateful to be sending my son off on the errand of the Lord. I am grateful for friends, neighbors, and family members that love and support my son. The man he is becoming is a good one.

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