If We Were Having Coffee #11 – Goodbyes

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If we were having coffee, I would only have two choices to offer you today. We have a Gevalia Colombian and a Wide Awake French Vanilla. I’m going with the Colombian and French Vanilla creamer.  Let’s sit out on the porch and enjoy a late summer preview of fall’s upcoming cool crisp mornings. Coffee will warm us.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I really don’t feel like writing anything this morning but I am because this is such a unique feeling I am experiencing today. If I don’t capture it now… you get the picture.

My wife and I took Thursday and Friday off this week to take care of all the last minute things we needed to get done in preparation for my son leaving for college. This mainly involved some last minute dealings with his school, getting his new laptop setup, and of course: packing.  His school had staggered move in times for incoming freshmen based on their last name and my son’s scheduled time was between 8:00 and 9:30 on Saturday morning. This meant we had to have the car packed (we packed every inch of it) on Friday night and leave our house by 6:00 am Saturday morning.  Well laid plan but we didn’t get out of here until 6:30 which got us to his college around 9:15. No worries.

We pulled in front of his dorm and there were about fifteen or so upperclassmen (athletes we later found out) that quickly unloaded our car and hauled his stuff up to his room. The room was laid out very symmetrical with a large armoire, a bed, and a desk to each side of the room with two dressers in the center of the room, one facing one bed, and one facing the other.  Not much room for two people. Thankfully, his new roommate showed up with his parents about ten minutes into our standing around being confused, made quick introductions, and immediately made some suggestions on how to rearrange the room. Their son is one of eleven kids and they had been through this numerous times before. We followed their lead and quickly arranged the room, setting the beds as bunk beds, then moved the dressers and armoires around. Problem solved. They said goodbye to us and their son walked them out to their car to say goodbye.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we had originally planned on staying all day and attending the welcome ceremony that would take place around 3:00 in the afternoon.  We didn’t. While my son was getting settled with his new roommate, we ran to the store to get him some last minute things (a lamp, light bulbs, blanket, water, and snacks). When we returned we could tell it was time to go.

Saying goodbyes suck. We say goodbye to a loved one or a pet when they pass. We say goodbyes to family who live in other parts of the country. We say goodbyes to friends we know we won’t see for some time. None of this prepared me or my wife on how to say goodbye to our son nor how we would feel afterwards.

He walked us out to the car and we all hugged, told him we loved him and were proud of him, then wished him good luck.  We were OK. Then he came in for the second hug and goodbye to my wife, then me.  He walked off towards his dorm, turning and looking back at us once, giving us that same boyish grin we’ve seen daily for so many years.  My wife and I cried, while our youngest son watched his older brother until he was out of view.

I know he is only a short two hour drive from us and this is just part of life. It doesn’t make it any easier. It’s his time to shine now in a different environment. He’s worked hard for this opportunity and we couldn’t be more proud.  There still is a part of me though that wishes my kids could just stay kids.  I know that is both selfish and unrealistic but still…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that he turns nineteen in two weeks and we will make the drive and take him out to dinner. Two weeks isn’t such a long time. Then we get him for a short break in October and again around Thanksgiving. We can do this.

He texted us goodnight last night then texted us again this morning telling us about his morning run on the lake and some new friends he made last night.  He sounds so excited.

And so it starts.





  1. philosophoenix


  2. Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

    Damn, you’re killing me. I went through that last year with preschool! I know it’ll seem like tomorrow when I go through this. Thanks. Great post.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      There will be a multiplier effect to what you felt for preschool. Each move up the school chain ladder get’s a little harder but it’s still satisfying seeing their growth. Thanks for reading and commenting Dan!

  3. Diana

    What a day.

    I’m glad to hear that things went smoothly, but I can only imagine the odd new feelings.


    • W.C. Cunningham

      Odd is a good word for those feelings because all the good thoughts outweigh the sad thoughts, which brings about a bit of guilt for being so happy and proud about something that causes some sadness (if that makes any sense, lol). Thanks for stopping by Diana!

      • Diana

        I can only imagine, as I’ve been on your son’s side but not your side yet, but I know it’s coming one day, and I think it must be a difficult feeling to describe.

  4. Joy

    You did a pretty great job capturing (in great detail I might add) how you felt watching Liam walk away. It actually moved me to tears. Perhaps it’s because I am a hormonal pregnant lady, but I don’t think so. You can do this 🙂

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Hormonal pregnant ladies tend to get that way especially when they are diet restricted right? It’s allowed 🙂 (Congrats to you btw. Meant to tell you that the other day)

      • Joy

        Ha! Yes, yes we do. And thank you 🙂

  5. Corina

    Not an easy thing to do. You’ll all be okay. It will be tough but you’ll do it.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      We’re getting through it. His excitement helps. Thanks Corina.

  6. Georgia Rose

    This is exactly as it should be Bill. They are only ever on loan to us and we do the best we can to bring them up but the separation begins that first day of pre-school when for the first time they come home having done stuff that we weren’t part of. I always wanted to bring mine up to be independent and that when they went to university they would go full of excitement and optimism and with barely a backward glance. This is as it should be and you know you have done a good job. But that backward glance is the killer, the thing that breaks your heart and I know how you’re feeling, believe me. But you know what? Not much has changed, he’s at a distance now but he’ll be back and you’ll go and see him and your relationship will morph into a new way of working and it will be good. You’ll see.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      That backward glance was a killer Georgia. I saw a little boy for a second then instantly remembered he’s a young man. On loan… that really sums it up. As the week has progressed we are getting caught up in his excitement which makes us even more excited and proud of him (and thankfully that trumps most blue feelings we were having).

      Thanks for stopping by Georgia.

  7. Ruth

    We’ll be going through the same thing in a week or so…and I thought kindergarten was tough!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      It’s going to be tougher and I feel for you (with my entire five days of experience, lol).

  8. Hugh's Views and News

    Must have been quite a day for you all Bill, but at least you have those days to look forward to when Liam will be coming home. I remember when I flew the nest and being so excited about it. However, I always kept in touch and going home for holidays such as Christmas was something I so looked forward to.

    Thanks for the coffee. See you again soon and I look forward to hearing more news from Liam and how he’s getting on.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      A monumental day for all of us. It’s been a week today and thanks to modern technology, it’s been OK. Our daily morning texts are still there and he’s made us a part of his first week of school with quick texts and pictures.

      Thanks for stopping by Hugh.

  9. Mary Rowen

    Oh Bill. I’m not a hormonal pregnant lady, but this post also made me cry. I’m so glad he’s texting you regularly and that you’ll see him in a couple of weeks. But still, it seems so hard. And it’s right around the corner for our family…

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Sometime’s I feel like we had so much to do (prepping for college) his last six months of high school, that we didn’t fully enjoy that time with him. I can attribute much of this to to our learning curve on college acceptance and financial aid which was complicated by the competitiveness of the program he got accepted into (and higher price). In hindsight, we should’ve started all this the summer between his junior and senior year instead of waiting until almost October. Lessons learned. Of course that doesn’t lessen the sadness any but we might have been better prepared for it.

      Thank God for texting 🙂

  10. nazmania2014

    Bill, I have only recently found your blog and I am enjoying it very much. Keep up the good work, as you have a way with putting into words many of the things the rest of us are already feeling. I too am in western NY, so perhaps some time we could have coffee for real.

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank for reading! I enjoyed yours too. We’re very close, I’m about and hour and a half south of you but we go up there often. Coffee for real would be fun.

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