Good Bye Smile

Tonight I said good-bye to my oldest son Stephen. Tomorrow he leaves for Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he will be until June 4th. He’s doing his spring term at Dartmouth down in Argentina. He will be living with a host family, taking 3 classes, and speaking nothing but Spanish. I know we don’t see much of each other even when he’s on campus here in New Hampshire, but he’s always just more than an hour away. Now he will be more than 5400 miles away, and gone for 11 weeks.

Starting now, until the time he returns, a lot will have happened. Spring officially begins. His sister Erin will turn 16 years old on Easter Sunday. The NCAA Basketball and Hockey Champions will be crowned. Spring training will be hard to remember by the time he gets home. Fenway will celebrate its 100th birthday. Taxes will be due. His twin brother and sister will each turn 2 years old. Mother’s Day will come and go. Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start to summer will pass. The
Little League baseball regular season will start and nearly finish. Steve’s brother Ryan will finish his freshman year out at Ohlone College, come home, and head out to play summer baseball before he gets home. NCAA Baseball Regionals will be underway. The Stanley Cup Finals will be in progress. The Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft will start the same day he heads home. Goffstown schools will have just 9 school days remaining. Steve himself will be just five weeks from his 20th birthday when he gets home. Hundreds of prayers for his safety and well-being will be heard by God. I will glance at the moon and stars hundreds of times, wondering if Steve is seeing what I am seeing and sharing the moment with me on another continent.

Yes, he will be twenty years old this summer. I mean he is a young man. He is a very capable sophomore at one of the most prestigious schools in the USA. This should be easier than this, right? My brain should be resting easily with the rest of me, fast asleep. Honestly I can’t imagine it ever would be easy. He’s my son. Always. By the grace of God Steve came into this world. My own flesh and blood. There are, and have been things I would do for Steve, or any of the kids, that I never would have done for myself. As it should be.

We spent a few minutes just prior to goodbye looking at the sky together. We talked about what we saw. Mars, Orion, Venus, The Big Dipper, etc. Now this isn’t something we do very often, but it was just the moment, the clear sky, the beautiful evening, the thing that we did at that moment. I’d sit and watch grass grow if it meant I could spend time with my kids. Then it was a reminder of some ideas we shared earlier on his packing strategy and self security in a foreign country. Then a smile, a real smile, shared between father and son. A smile that says I’m gonna be fine Dad and you have no idea how excited I am to experience these next 11 weeks. A smile that said I love you Dad, and worry not. My smile framed the spoken words, “I love you Steve …” My smile also meant I understand that this is his time, his place. And my faith, my trust in God eases my heart and mind as Steve makes this journey. It’s the smile that I share with Steve in June that I really can’t wait for.

I love you Steve. Have a great trip. Be safe. Be smart. I trust you will leave as lasting an impression on the places and people you see as they will on you. I’m proud of you. I will miss you as always. Enjoy and have fun sharing your smile. Love, Dad

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