By the time these words reach your paper, my nest will once again be empty. My girl will have moved, this time to a small town just outside of Charlotte. Celeste has a new job lined up, which she’ll be starting in January. She has a great little apartment waiting for her with one of her best friends in this world. Actually, with her very first friend in this world, as Jordan lived directly across the street from us for many years and has gradually morphed from friend to something closer to sibling.
She has a little money in her savings account and a boyfriend I approve of, one who almost seemed inevitable, as they’ve remained constant, close friends since middle school.
I’m so proud of where she is now, and who. She is absolutely ready for this next step, and I’m genuinely excited for her.
So why do I, who almost never cries, have tears in my eyes (along with a squirrel on my head) as I write this?
It has been a rather long goodbye, as she first began considering the move a few months back, when Jordan’s previous roommate left to marry.
For weeks, Celeste and I have been noting — and making the most of — our “lasts.” The last time we’ll cause Don to flee the living room so she and I can watch the latest episode of “This Is Us.” Our last time kayaking on Stone Mountain’s lake. The last walk through graffiti park.
And Don and I have been noting the last time we’ll hear the snooze button repeat its sequence every eight minutes for an hour or more.
And the last lost cup of coffee we’ll find somewhere truly bizarre.
Or the last time I’ll mistake her little jeans for my own, causing me to believe I’ve ballooned overnight.
When she originally moved out on her own at 19, it wasn’t quite the same. There was some sadness then, too, but also not. I was still near enough to those trying teen years that enable parents to part more easily with the cause of so many sleepless nights.
While Celeste and I have always been close and she may have been easier than many teenagers, we had our fair share of head-butting, too. Even so, that first time she ventured out on her own, it was just as I was moving to Atlanta, so we had over eight hours of interstate between us. I suspect it was tougher for me than for her, but about a year and a half after I moved, she followed me South.
Her original plan was to stay with me and Don for just a few months, while she decided what her next step in life would be, but having her with us felt so nice and so right we encouraged her to stay longer.
Even though Celeste had known Don her whole life, it was more that she knew OF Don, and the same of him with her. They knew each other through me. When she was little, I asked Don to help be her Santa, and he would write her letters that she saved — partly because they were treasured but also because she, of suspicious nature, wanted to compare handwriting year-to-year.
Once a child is already grown, there generally isn’t opportunity for them to become close to a stepparent who arrives late to the game. Having her with us has been wonderful for that.
That my two favorite people on earth genuinely care about each other makes me feel hugely blessed.
And now one of them is moving away.
Hard as it may be, I didn’t discourage it. Everything about this feels right.
Even if it means there will be four hours of interstate between us.