At this time tomorrow, the baby of our family,Olivia, will be arriving in London for her junior year abroad. This morning, I took a few moments to survey the guest room, Livy’s staging site for all things London bound.
There are neat piles of clothes, documents, jewelry, and books. And there, lined up against the wall, are pairs of shoes for all seasons and all occasions.
Something about those shoes fills my heart with a bittersweet wistfulness. I imagine those shoes trudging through the streets of London, Spain, and all those other places Livy wants to travel in this year abroad. I imagine the experiences she will have, the sights she will see, the things she will learn. I imagine the many joys, moments of exhilaration, and times of doubt that she will go through. And I try to imagine how she will return – changed in some ways, more herself in so many others.
We raise our children to go out into the world and live lives we can only imagine. All three of our kids have wanted to do just that, and while we glory in their spirit of independence and adventure, we feel the space they leave behind here in the home they were raised. I feel this when I wander past their empty bedrooms, and I will feel it tonight, when that line of shoes will be packed away in a suitcase jetting towards London.