My beautiful son left the nest today.
In less than a blink, Jack David turned 18 and started a thrilling new chapter of life. I was too much of a cry baby to watch him drive off so I pulled out at the same time he did. Driving away, a trickle of thoughts (and tears) soon became a torrent and I found myself swimming in all the things I didn't do or should have done.
I didn't teach him how to change a flat. Or check his tire pressure.
I never made a backup copy of his car key for when he loses it ... which he will.
I forgot to get him a new suit. The kid's going to need a suit.
This kid will go to college having never listened to Bread or America. What was I thinking.
And then, like a soft, sweet, cool breeze in a blazing Tulsa summer, grace and mercy arrived just in time to provide a respite from all this second-guessing and self-doubt.
I loved him. Daily and deeply.
I taught him that nothing comes easy and that there's no substitute for hard work and sacrifice.
I taught him how to choose his friends wisely. And most importantly, how to be a great friend.
I taught him how to pack and how to travel.
I taught him how to love himself so that he could one day learn to love everybody, even people blinded with ignorance and hate.
I taught him how to respect women.
I taught him how to take calculated risks.
I even taught him how to fail.
I taught Jack how to think for himself. And I taught him science and faith are not mutually exclusive. Seek knowledge. Pursue wisdom. Gain understanding. In all things.
I guess I taught him a lot things. But there's so much I missed.
I've already started a to-do list for the things we need to get done for when he comes back to visit. The truth is, though, I'll never have enough time to convey everything he's going to need to make it on his own entirely. Because he never will. We need other people as much as they need us.
I have to trust the village now. Just like the coaches, teachers and youth ministers that poured so deeply into his childhood, there are people out there that will help me and his mother finish the job. Heck ... they're already at it. Jack's mom just called to say the old gas station attendant at our neighborhood filling station just taught the kid how to change that flat.
I have a feeling we're all probably going to make it. Especially the 18-year-old, young-man heading east on Highway 51 right now.
Godspeed, Jackie. I love you! A.H.A.W.