On the far left is an image from nineteen years ago and on the right is an image from earlier today. There are a couple of things in common with the two pictures - the subjects are the same, a father and son (me and The Boy), and I am in awe of him in both.
Nineteen years ago, I held this newborn baby boy wondering, as you can see, what it was going to be like to be a father to him. Our girls had come first and the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML knew from girls. No need for an owners' manual with them. The Boy brought a whole new set of opportunities for us to learn new things as parents. As I held him that day, looking at him in awe and wonder, I tried to imagine what his life would be like. More than anything, I wanted it to be a good one, where he would grow up happy and be able to choose well in this life.
Today, I found myself holding him and once again, looking at him in awe as he began his two year missionary assignment. He's a hair or two taller than me now, so I certainly wasn't cradling him like when he was a baby. I did wrap my arms around him and held him tightly as I said, "See you in two years."
Our curbside goodbye at the Missionary Training Center was, by design, brief. Think of it more like a drive by shooting, but with brief hugs instead of bullets and swarms of missionaries approaching your car to take the luggage instead of a couple of thugs looking to jack your ride. The young men who assisted us with The Boy could not have nicer. They were sensitive to us as parents but more importantly, quickly helped put The Boy at ease. That said, they got things moving fast and before you knew it, they were walking our Boy off. It was probably better that way. Turns out, I'm an ugly crier.
As we drive away, I could hardly breathe. Not out of fear for him, but because of how much I felt I would miss him. I began to breathe again when I heard my wife say, through her own tears, "He's going to be okay." She's right; he will be okay - he'll be more than okay.
Right now as I wind down my day, I'm thinking of my son. It'll be good to get his first email. We'll rest a bit easier at that point. I'm realizing, eight and a half hours into this, that parents of a missionary have some adjusting to do just as he does. We'll get this figured out.
One last thing, I know many of you who have taken a virtual seat on the sofa here in the Den are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that this whole process may seem mighty peculiar. I suppose it is but I am so honored to share this experience with you. Your support today through various social media outlets has been amazing. To all of our friends, thank you for the love today. Thank you.