She wasn't ready, nineteen years old and her life still packed in a mover's truck, waiting for permission to live for a night in a room of her own. She wasn't ready, registered and auditioned, dreading exams, wishing away three other roommates in too little space and a three-person bunk so she could hide and cry over the bigness of it all, so she could stop and imagine that what she said wasn't too much, that she was funny and real and accepted just as she was. She wasn't ready to be so strong; she wanted to go home.
And in her I saw me, turning away from the window as Mom doubled over in the car while Dad drove her states away with all my younger siblings tagging along behind, wondering what their own journey would be. I turned, and I swallowed the lump I'm still swallowing, taking back the goodbye I couldn't say anyway, turning around and meeting people and cracking jokes too loudly that weren't even funny to me.
I saw me, nine years later, remembering me then, standing second-time pregnant in a dorm full of girls who didn't know me from Jane, who wondered if I was one of them, because I looked young enough to live there and old enough to know what I was talking about. I no longer cared what they thought; I'd lived their fears, been beaten by their fears, dropped out and found what it means to live.
So I hugged her goodbye, told her to call if she needed me, let her know we were near enough and she was wanted, and left her to parent-goodbyes she wasn't ready to say. I walked back to my husband's heart-home and my little girl, aching and praying and feeling for her, remembering my own first day, wondering how she will remember hers, hoping she will know what I didn't then, that ready or not, her God will not abandon her as I once thought He might abandon me.
Again, I swallowed the lump in my throat for this second sister leaving the child behind, praying the too-much-hurt away from woman she'll become, wishing I'd loved her more and better, leaving her with Him.
(image from emilina at sxc)