Friday, September 2, 2011

The Music of Change

We drove to Gonzaga with David in caravan-style last weekend - he, with a friend, his bike and some things in his car, Gregg and I with the rest of his gear in my car. It was a five-plus hour drive (you may recall last autumn, when I posted about it here) including a ferry ride across the Sound, and a drive through the Cascade Mountains, Snoqualmie Pass, across the Columbia River & through the Columbia Basin to the "Inland Empire."

It's hot out there on the eastern side of the state - nearly 100 degrees last weekend - but dry, so you don't feel as if you're melting quite as rapidly as you would in a humid climate. We had a nice dinner in the setting sun on the patio of a restaurant, slept well (in spite of a mix-up with our room reservation), and got up to take a walk by the river before David awoke in the morning.

After breakfast, we helped him move into his new dorm, which looks very nice indeed. The building has many small study alcoves, a fireplace, with pool, ping-pong and foosball tables, cozy living rooms, well-equipped kitchens and laundry rooms. It is light and welcoming, and everyone we met was nice (which we find is typical for G.U.).

Once the work was done, Gregg, David and cousin Kim went to the golf course for a round of 18 holes. When they finished, we met at Kim's house for dinner with him and Mary, after which David went back to his dorm to continue getting settled. Gregg and I returned to the hotel for the night.

We met David briefly the next day to say "goodbye." It was a totally different experience from Freshman Orientation - he's a sophomore now, and he knows his way around; he has good friends, activities already in the works, and a rigorous class load this semester. David is far more confident and independent than he was as a freshman; we felt completely comfortable leaving him at school on his own.
Miles & David helping to prepare the boat on Argosy's Camp Goodtimes Cruise
The summer flew past, from my perspective. Apart from taking two vacations (to Arizona on his own and Tofino with us), David worked at least 40 hours most weeks, and needed his rest when he was not working. We are grateful that he had a good job with such a wonderful company as Argosy Cruises.

He spent time with a variety of friends, played as much basketball as possible, went kayaking, decided that he liked to relax on our roof when the sun was shining (!), read books, played video games, watched "Top Gear" and stayed up until all hours. Gregg and I found some of his new ways a bit foreign.

I believe that my parents used to call this phenomenon "re-entry." It's quite normal; Gonzaga's website even addressed it last spring, as the school year was ending. I remember having re-entry issues with my own parents, after living out-of-state during my college years.
We allowed David a great deal of independence, understanding that he had grown accustomed to making his own schedule and decisions...and that he had his priorities at the age of 18, which are obviously different from those of a couple of 50-something parents. We loved being with him when it was possible.
There were days when I felt very sad for David's loss of his sister, his closest companion.
I know that, if she had lived, they would have different interests and friends by this time; I know that it isn't our fault that she passed away.
Yet I couldn't help feeling that his life was so much richer when he wasn't the "only child" living at home. I wish Katie was still here for so many reasons, and one of those reasons is for David's sake.
2004 Piano Recital
On his last day at home, David took a break from packing, came downstairs and began spontaneously to play the piano. I nearly wept, hearing him play again. David and Katie took piano lessons from an early age, and David took to the instrument naturally and diligently; he did not need to be pushed to practice. I used to sing along with him sometimes, as he played songs that we both know and love.
2004 Piano Recital
February, 2006 Piano Recital
February, 2006 Piano Recital
As David's hands moved over the piano keys on his last day at home this summer, nostalgia for those years when he and Katie were taking lessons swept over me. The simplicity of those times, our joy in their learning to play the instrument, the memory of what it was like to be an intact family, came through the music flowing from my son's fingertips. I sang along with him. I savored the moment, the memories, and prepared to let him go...again.

We are deeply thankful for the gift of David in our lives, and the joy of his presence.

*Wishing all students and teachers a happy, productive and blessed school year!*


Angela & Adam said...

Wow...what a beautiful post. Hugs to you and Gregg and you...

Elizabeth said...

I'm a bit teary, naturally, reading this post. The simplicity of its beginning, the recounting of the days and then the plunge into memory, accompanied by music and photos -- well - it was beautifully written and swept me away.

Anonymous said...

Your post overwhelmed me with its memories of music, companionship, growing up, loss and letting go. The photos showing Katie and David's progression are lovely. As my children are still young, it is difficult to imagine letting go, in the various ways you have had to, and I pray that I will have the grace and strength to do it properly when called upon. May David continue to thrive in his sophomore year.

Karen B.

Dawn ~ BJSMomma said...

I very much enjoyed reading this, and as always...I LOVE looking at any photo's! Hugs to you!

Mary Potts said...

The beginning of the school year must be affecting several of us. Without going into great detail, I will just say a tear-filled "I understand".

Karen said...

Awww, I feel that moment...the what-might/should-have-been moments are so bittersweet. They are a hope cut short, overlaying a precious memory, a flash of light, a peek into the windows of the quickly moving train of life. They hurt, but also have such a sweet tenderness to them.

On top of that, your boy is growing up. And now off to a second year at school. It's a blessing, and also a loss of a kind. I wish they never had to leave, but they do. My grandson is playing hockey in MI this year, and it feels like the far end of the world. I find myself longing for his presence here, as I know you do your David.
Thinking of you as you "adjust" again.
Love, Karen East

Me said...

Such a beautiful and moving (to tears) post. You write so well Karen. And that last picture of Katie in those shoes made me smile. Love to you and your memories that you paint so wel.

Allegra Smith said...

Cannot wait to join you up there. And to see you later in October, I am taking care this time, as you can imagine, there is a Spanish saying something about fear not being always worthless. And I am not going to have any more surgeries if I can help it and this time I think I can.

Miss you something serious and hope to see you before the end of the month if it can be helped,hugs from here.

Karla said...

Very beautiful!