Smile In Secret

Taking the Sealy for a  test drive.

Taking the Sealy for a test drive.

I never had children so there are certain ritual passages that I’ve never experienced. In my life I’ve ushered a legion of other people’s children through various thresholds so it was surprising how Craig’s Facebook post today struck me. I saw him just last week. We had a late night dinner in Nashville, Indiana and I spent much of the evening secretly smiling. He was different. He’d made the passage and was standing firmly in his independence.

In his post today he wrote, “ And with that final, I’m officially a college senior.”

His passage, like all worthy passages, did not come easily. Nothing worthwhile ever does.

Last August, I helped him move to a new university. We packed the truck and drove out of state. Together, along with Josh, we carried his enormous couch and all the other stuff in the truck into Craig’s first-ever apartment. We helped him set things up and then he needed Kerri and me to go. He needed to be on his own. He needed to step into the unknown places and get lost.

Over the year I was witness to how he got lost, met a multitude of fears and frustrations head on, and how he stood in the fire with all of it. It shouldn’t have surprised me that it transformed him. I know how transformation works and yet this time I was somehow too close to fully see.

Over the year I’ve talked with Craig through the night and into the wee hours about socialism and the difference between a plan A and a plan B. We talked about sarcasm and life without having to push other people under water to feel powerful. We’ve talked about true power. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas. On a freezing cold day in December we tromped through a farm and picked out a Christmas tree that I dubbed Satan because the needles were like daggers. I’m still finding those needles in my socks. We smoked cigars and he made a mixed drink for me called something I can’t remember (a testament to the potency of the concoction); it was awful. We laughed and drank it anyway.

I learned to play Apples to Apples when he came home for a surprise visit. We sat around the table into the wee hours with Pierre and Kirsten and Josh and laughed about anything and everything.

He inspired a week of posts when he asked me a single question and I suspect it will not be the last time.

Last week when he met us for dinner at Uncle Bill and Aunt Linda’s house in the woods of Indiana, I couldn’t believe the chatty, funny, informed, strategic, considerate man sitting across the table was the same boy I drove to college in August.

Craig’s post came on the day after I lost one of my champions: Bob. He was a man who made his own destiny and I think Craig will do the same. I wished that the new college senior had met the man who ushered me through so many of my life’s passages. They are cut from the same cloth. I wanted to write Craig and tell him, “You have no idea how many people are cheering for you.” I wanted to welcome him to the other side.

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