I changed my mind. It started when Sarah drove to Nashville with a friend for portfolio day. She came home with an enthusiasm and excitement about college which forced me to accept that she is ready. A realization that I had been ignoring despite the quiet cheering for Sarah from the allies she doesn’t know she has on Twitter. Sarah has a dream and it is my job to let her reach for it. She’s my baby, but this is her life.
In January, I am sending my 17-year-old daughter to college in Manhattan. I know more about the environment on Mars than I know about New York. She is going to a city that is a location for television and movies. New York is where celebrities live. It’s not a real place. I feel like I am catapulting my child into a foreign land without so much as a medpac or cricket bat.
It’s not just the unknown that frightens me. Sarah has never experienced a real winter. She doesn’t have the clothing for New York weather. How will she learn to live on her own when she doesn’t have the skills to function in a city? A really big, crowded city of people who don’t all have a family or friend connection is something she can’t possibly understand. A starving college student isn’t funny when it’s your own child and she is 720 miles from home.
This is what Sarah wants. Sarah has never been anything but wonderful. She is an amazing daughter and sister. She is a good student and talented artist. Sarah suffered in silence during the difficult times that Autism controlled our lives. She works hard to contribute to our home and harder to do her best at school. It is not unusual for Sarah to study until midnight and paint until sunrise. She does it all herself. Even in elementary school, she refused help with projects and insisted upon doing it herself. She has earned the school of her dreams.
There will be no ceremony, party or pageantry to symbolize the enormity of what is happening. Sarah is leaving home. When she falls, she will get up and keep moving forward. We are her past and her future is elsewhere. If we’re very lucky, she will come home for holidays, but she will only be visiting us. Sarah has a dream college and an infatuation with a city, but she is stubbornly determined to work hard and be her own person. She isn’t waiting for her dream to happen, she’s making reality her dream. She is already planning on a series of apprenticeships to find where she fits. I’m a weeping mess, but Sarah is going to be fine.
Hooray! Sarah is going to college. Wah! Sarah is going to college. I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m excited. I’m terrified. My heart is ripped into pieces, but I’m stashing a few of those bits in Sarah’s coat pockets. No matter where she goes, I’ll be there too. If the zombies get too close, she can toss my heart to distract them while she gets away safely.