It has been two weeks since you drove off to UGA for your first semester of college. That afternoon, after I watched your car pull out, and I rolled the garbage can up the hill, and went inside, it was very quiet. I was feeling excited for you and was ultra prepared for this transition, until I had to listen to that all of a sudden, horrifying, oppressive quiet. I melted noisily into a crying puddle on the kitchen floor, for many minutes. But that was it. I can honestly say, I am good now.
I have managed to only text you twice, I think. And those were about logistics. Thank you for the calls. You sounded even more at ease and full of plans than usual. Maybe you've found a place that can keep up with your huge thirst for life. Although you've always managed to create opportunities, I imagine it will be cool to have them laid out at your feet, more than you can possibly choose.
Jesse, before this next chapter gets too far underway, before the past gets swept away under the present whirlwind of football games, soccer and swing dance practice, and (I trust) studying for your forestry, French, economics, etc. classes, I want to acknowledge who you have been up until now.
You have been that man of character that I always encouraged you and Gillen to find within. You have been a generous and authentic son and friend, cousin, grandson, nephew and brother. Yes, you have smarts and talent beyond measure but it is your character, and your love of life that inspires. When others praise me for having unschooled you guys, I know that the truth is that you and Gillen made it easy. It was the two of you that showed me how much fun learning can be and that we are truly learning all the time, even while playing video games or reading Calvin and Hobbes for the fortieth time. You proved that I could trust you to make the best choices for yourself, that you wanted to fly as high as you could, that it was ok if once in a while you took a spill, or took a breather. I feel like, in those years of barn-raising, you raised me up to be a better person, just by watching you be the loving and curious boy, and then young man, that you inherently have always been. All I did was to hear your ideas and try to help make them possible with a ride or a roll of duct tape or a phone call. You created your life, Jesse. And you should take ownership of that. And be proud of the times you were uncomfortable or wanted to give up, but hung in there in order to meet your goal.
I can't wait to see what choices you make next.
Love you madly,