The end of the summer is a hard time for my family, but it teaches us to keep moving forward.
Beginning the school year is traditionally marked with filling children’s lunch bags with sandwiches and apples or backpacks with school supplies. Parents then watch them either get on a yellow bus or pass through the glass doors of their educational campuses.
I remember when my mom used to line us up in the driveway, force us to smile and take a picture. This ritual was done every year to mark the start of the school, because it was a happy time.
But that is not true in our case, and I am sure for many other families as well.
As summer vacation nears its end, our family gathers in Tyler’s, my stepson’s, room looking over his possessions.
He sits there cramming almost every garment we bought him over the summer into a bag and debates what other things he can squeeze into his two carry-ons.
Some things he chooses to leave on purpose, either because he has a second of the same item or he would like to keep with us until he returns home.
The packing is followed by an early-morning drive to an airport. Both Tyler and my wife, Tracy, generally pass out on the drive, trying to sprawl out in whatever space is available in the front or back seats. Almost every year, we wake up around 4 a.m. and hit the road before 5 a.m.
Breakfast among the airport shops is next. It is rarely good, but it is a pattern we fall into every time. We then sit together for an hour or so while we wait for boarding.
We try to chat each other up and laugh during our last few minutes together for several months.
And instead of watching Tyler walk through those glass high school doors, knowing he will be back before the end of the day, we give hugs and “see you soons.”
“Soon” this year will be Christmas, but some years, it’s the following May or June, which cannot come soon enough.
We don’t snap pictures of him leaving; instead we wait and watch the plane leave the runway.
We do, however, make sure we have plenty of pictures throughout the summer. Fun and silly pictures, but none of those compare to the memories we also try to cram into our brains, even at the last minute.
This summer was filled with so many good things, that hopefully it will be easy to move through the next couple of months.
There were foam nunchuck fights, visits to other states, indoor skydiving and much more that made our summer a great time.
And while we don’t have that back-to-school lunch packing memory, we do have many more.