Paper cuts. We all get them. The risk comes with the job of handling paper. Yet, somehow, each time we get a paper cut, we are completely caught off guard. The pain shoots through our finger, and we drop the paper. We rub the cut, the pain quickly subsides, and we then pick the paper back up and continue our work.
I’ve had some paper cuts on my heart this weekend. You see, we dropped Karlie off at her college this weekend. I debated on whether or not I should post this blog. I don’t want to pretend that I know what it’s like to drop a child off at college that I raised from birth for eighteen years. I am not that naive. I can’t fathom the courage that comes with that and I have a new respect in how well my mother handled that transition. But I do know how I feel, even from being with a child for a tiny fraction of that amount of time. And it’s my blog, so I do what I want. (-:
I got my first paper cut on Friday. We were shopping at Whole Foods - Karlie and I. She was getting snacks for her dorm, and I was doing our “regular” grocery shopping - except it wasn’t regular. Regular means I buy almost ten pounds of peanut butter, an $8 gallon of organic apple juice, and lots of milk. As I passed those items and others, I knew I wouldn’t need them this time, but I suppressed the thought. When we got to the check out line, I paid for my last item and immediately after my last item was scanned, coincidentally, there was that same $8 gallon of apple juice on the conveyer belt that another customer was purchasing. Karlie assumed there was a mistake, “Is that yours?” she asked. I quickly responded that it wasn’t, and I felt that paper cut and the prick of tears. It’s not ours because you won’t be here to drink it.
Saturday Karlie and I drove to her college together. She picked her favorite songs to sing to, I instructed her on how slowly she should be driving, where cops usually were, and how she should not be texting while going to and from college. We pulled onto campus and got in line to wait for the students to unload our car. As we were there, waiting on campus, yet in our car, Karlie started to get so excited. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had peed herself. As she was getting more and more excited, I felt that paper cut and that sting of tears. This is it. You’re not coming home with us. I forced the feeling to pass, I kept my “cool”, and tried to celebrate with her, while all the time having a feeling of heaviness.
We spent the day decorating her dorm room, running errands on campus, and helping her get acquainted with her new home. I only lost my composure a few times while trying to maintain control of a situation that was not in my hands anymore. We stayed later than pretty much every other parent. And finally, we really had to leave. When Karlie realized we really were leaving her there, she, in a moment of fear, got those huge tears in her big blue eyes, and said “Please don’t leave me here. I don’t know anyone. Please stay the night with me!” Of course I couldn’t stay the night, and deep down I’m sure she didn’t really want me to. But I felt that cut, and I felt my own tears. I gave her a hug, told her she would be just fine, and reassured her that yes, she would make new friends, and we would see her in a couple of days. And then we left.
We drove home, and pulled up to the house. The very quiet house. The house with only one car in the garage. And we went to sleep.
I have received more paper cuts - paper cuts as I walk into her room and am surprised at how clean it is. (It was really only clean maybe five days ever while she was living in it). I never thought a clean room would make me sad. But it did. Paper cuts come when my phone or Mark’s phone makes any sound - and I ask, “Is that from Karlie?”, wondering how she is and what she’s doing - yet not wanting to hover.
I know there will be more paper cuts. But I know there will be so many more joyful events, so many reasons for celebrations, and so many more evidences of the Lord working out his plan in Karlie’s life. And I am so thankful for the front row seat I get - even if it does come with the risk of paper cuts.
I’d say the benefits definitely outweigh the cost.