This silence is deafening. I did not know quiet could be so disconcerting.
The problem with silence like this is that I can hear myself think. And I cannot turn off my thoughts.
I am back at my house. Note, I do not say "home." All the pieces that make my house a home - people, laughter, the white noise of a shared day-to-day existence - are gone. My nest, as the saying goes, is empty. The moment I have dreaded for so long is here.
Carson has moved onto the UT Dallas campus, her dorm room set up to her liking, and is busy going from NCAA compliance meetings, to screenings, to uniform pickup.
And my heart is breaking.
Not so much because I am sad, but because when a heart swells with so much pride, it has to crack at some point. It's safe to say mine is shattered right now. I am overwhelmed at having had a front row seat to watch someone chase and catch a dream.
Aaaaand here they come. The tears I held back while helping her move in; the tears that I refused to let spoil our goodbye; the tears that have sat in the back of my throat during the 3 1/2 hour drive home. A lump in my throat so big I thought I surely must have swallowed her soccer ball.
That's ok. I can type through tears, and just as I did for your sisters, I now do for you, Carson...
I miss you. Already. So much. I can "feel" that you are not here in the house. I know when I leave my study you won't be out in the living room drawing. I won't hear Dance Moms on the TV, or Legend of Zelda upstairs, or Spamalot from your computer.
It is a silence I will have to get used to. And I promise I will do my best. But your life force has left with you and all I hear is silence.
I cannot begin to express how proud I am of you. There are not enough words, adequate words. Sometimes emotions are like that - they are simply too big to be captured by mere letters strung together. This is one of those times. You have worked so hard, sacrificed so much, allowed your heart to be broken repeatedly - yet you never gave up. Please trust our 30 year age difference when I say, most people give up. They just do. And when someone doesn't, when they refuse to be bested by circumstance, people's behavior, and daunting challenges - other people notice.
You are brave, Carson. It's what draws people to you, makes them follow you, makes them feel safe. You make people better people. It's a gift - I know it is sometimes a burden, but I promise you it is an amazing gift.
I know you feel nervous about what lies ahead. It's ok. It's normal. Your world is about to kick into high gear with demands you have only imagined. YOU. ARE. UP. TO. THE. CHALLENGES.
I told you last week that this is when you start the best part of your life. The tiny boxes you get squeezed into in high school are gone. You can spread your wings, you can explore. You will learn more about yourself in the next 4 years, hell, the next ONE year, than you learned in the past 18. Take it all in. This is when you start evolving into who you will be. And if you stay brave and allow yourself to keep evolving, the person you are next year won't be the person you are 5 years from now, 10 years from now. Life is about keeping your mind open and continuing to grow. All the answers you are nervous about not knowing will come to you. Just know that right now, in this moment, you are an amazing, talented, strong athlete. You are a gifted, insightful artist with vision. You are a person people want to call friend.
Everything about this silence that screams you being gone? It hurts, but at the same time I am excited for the people who will get the joy of coming into orbit around you.
When you graduated I wrote that Culley and Kendall taught me about the leaving, but that they were not in the position to teach me this last lesson - how to come home to this empty house. This lesson is yours to teach.
We are both entering phases of life where we figure out who we are, what is next. In this you will be my inspiration. And when you falter or get afraid, I want you to remember this:
There is a reason I let you, hell, wanted you, to get that tattoo. The Triforce, and all it stands for, have always been yours. You have shown incredible COURAGE in the face of so many years of ups, downs, setbacks, pain. You have demonstrated WISDOM beyond your years - focusing on your goals and taking the steps to reach them. And you have POWER like none I have ever know. Not just physical strength, but POWER - the kind that comes from deep inside.
These three things will move you through the challenges that are ahead. I know they will. And I will use your example as I move through the challenges and changes that lie ahead of me.
What's happening today is right. Not simply because it is the natural progression of things, but because there are little signs everywhere...
Three years ago you met her in Germany. Three years ago you cut your hair because of her. For years she has been your idol, your hero, the player you play like, and right down to the hair, weight and height - look like. That you received your new uniform kit this afternoon and it bears Megan Rapinoe's #15? Well, my heart may be breaking, but I know, deep down in my very core, that everything in the world is right.
I miss you. I love you. I am in awe of you. And I cannot wait to see you wear #15 when I watch you take the field in Memphis. You are my hero.
Now, excuse me while I go put on Dance Moms. It's just too quiet right now.