The young people pictured above, our son Dru and his fiancée Ashly, are captured in an image – a moment frozen in time – as they are about to embark on the next chapter of their lives. A few hours after this photo was taken, the truck was loaded, Ashly and my wife were putting final cleaning touches on the place the two young people had called home for the past couple years, and Dru was sitting for the fourth and final element of his CPA exam.
A few hours after that, the U-Haul truck and most of their worldly possessions – save for the ones consigned to us for “storage” – were headed east on I-94 to their new home, in a beautiful new apartment in a completely refurbished former landmark hotel in downtown Milwaukee. And in a few weeks, Dru will begin his professional career with one of the nation’s largest accounting and consulting companies – the job he’s wanted for the past three years while he completed his studies at the UW Business School. It was his dream job, and he landed it – all on his own.
It seems just a few days before the photo was taken, Dru was sitting next to me at baseball games, hockey games, football games, watching sports on TV with me, slogging his way through middle school and spending his spare time on ice skates or roller blades, playing hockey with his friends.
A few days after that, he was navigating his way through high school, barely breaking a sweat to generate straight-A report cards and praise from his teachers. He got his first paying job – working at the Marcus Theatre at a local mall – then traded that job up for a series of better-paying part-time jobs, all on his own.
A few days later, he lost his bearings at the big college (UW-Madison College of Engineering) and came home to tell me he was disillusioned and had to “take a break.” A few days after that, he was back in school, taking courses, working part-time jobs, and then being accepted into the UW Business School, where he made the Dean’s List every semester and graduated with honors. We saw a lot of movies together on Friday afternoons, went to a few Brewers games together, and then he put a diamond ring on Ashly’s hand – all on his own.
It seems it’s just a few days since he was a precocious pre-teen, spending hours in front of the mirror getting his hair “just right”; arguing with his mom about taking out the garbage; going with me to get his allergy shots; and now, he’s a fully grown man, educated, independent, with a clear vision of his future. His mother and I know he will be wildly successful in life.
The moral of this story: these moments, all of them, are fleeting. Embrace them. Your children will be adults before you know it. And don’t be surprised if you look at your adult son, with the whole world ahead of him, packed and ready to jump into it, and see a child. Ever it shall be.