Seeing her beige flats at the bottom of the stairs, the ones you repeatedly told her to take up to her room.
Remembering she’s not asleep in her room when you get up from your desk to refill your coffee.
Having waves of grief crash down on you, hard, unexpectedly.
Having them pass and breathing again.
Seeing your husband cry.
Knowing this is part of the process and knowing you have to go through it.
But much like the way people don’t talk abut what happens to your physical body in middle age, people don’t really talk about this either. Not while you’re in the thick of raising them anyway.
And besides, you can’t really prepare for it.
You can’t know that watching an epic Beyoncé performance at the VMAs will make you feel so alone because no one else in your family gets it except her.
You can’t know that hearing a Paul Simon song that you don’t even like will reduce you to tears in the Target parking lot.
You can’t know the elation of getting that first FaceTime request and feeling like you can finally exhale.
Maybe that’s why people don’t talk about it until it’s changed into something more manageable.
I know it will change into something more manageable. It already is.
There is so much joy in this. So, so much joy for the opportunity of her lifetime.
To do this. To go to college. To gain independence and experience and knowledge.
To start living her own life.
That’s how it changes. That’s how it becomes more manageable.
The great part is that I still get to be her mama and she still gets to be my child.
I’m so proud of this girl.
That’s how it becomes joy for me, too.