Today is Abby’s last day of high school.

I just finished packing her last school lunch – ever; my last school lunch – ever. So many mornings over so many years now complete. it’s a big deal. She was always the hard one to pack for, only liking certain things. Were the truth told, she’s probably
thrown more lunches away than eaten them. So much energy expended and angst expressed. Now done. Now over. Now finished.

I remember her labor and delivery. I consciously thought, “This will be the last time I ever do this.” As I nursed her I realized the same. Last Saturday’s prom, today’s school lunch, this Friday’s upcoming graduation: all markers of more ‘lasts’, of endings, of completion.

Yes, a summer awaits before college begins. Yes, more meals to prepare and cleaning to do and cash to hand over and crises to solve. But very little of all this remains when juxtaposed to the years of such. Now nearly over. Just…like…that.

As much as I have complained about all of this (the meals and cleaning and cash and crises), these very tasks, responsibilities, even struggles have created the scaffolding around my days, my life, my heart. And now, like any long-term construction project, I watch the last supports fall away and witness the finished product standing tall, intact, and completely separate from me.

And so, I stand back and take it all in, take all of her in, as she turns and walks away.

In just moments she will get in her car and drive to school. She will park one last time in her reserved slot. She will sit in class and move locations with each bell and wave to her friends in the hall – realizing (and not) that this is it. She will turn in one last paper, sign forms, and say goodbye. And it’s definitely time for all of this. She’s ready. So am I.

Still, I feel undone – this scaffolding now gone. Not unravelling. Not unstable. Not upset. Just aware that the rigor of a world ruled by school lunches and after school agendas and a 9-month calendar and back-to-school shopping and homework and field trip permission slips and immunization records and yearbook photos and choir concerts and sleepovers and late nights and early alarms all falls away, fades away. Just…like…that.

I am still here. In the same chair with the same pen and the same ritual of coffee and writing and the dog on my lap. And she is leaving. Yes, just for this last day of school, but for so much more.

I get up from this page to hug her goodbye, to tell her I love her. She shrugs and looks at me, wondering why I’m making a big deal about any of it.

Because that’s what I do as a mother: hold the awareness of all that is happening to and for you, all that you are – until you can and will and do. I build the scaffolding and then dissemble it, piece-by-piece, year-by-year, lunch-by-lunch, until you no longer need any of it. Because you don’t.

I’m guessing there will be days, months, and years ahead when I will gather that scaffolding around me, in my mind’s eye and deepest heart, that I will recount how every bit of it was privilege and precious gift, that I will realize I now stand intact because you always were – my beautiful and amazing girl. As it should be. As it will be. And so it is. Just…like…that.