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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Moving at the Speed of Sadness

Every end represents a new beginning

Over the past year, I’ve frequently used this space to write about my sons and their senior year of high school – a year filled with challenges, celebrations, a few firsts, and many lasts. I completely understand if you’re worn out on the topic of how this time has impacted me, but that won’t change the fact that I am going to write about it today for one reason: my blog, my rules. I’ll get back to the business of marketing and branding in the world of promo next week. But, for now, I just want to take a deep breath and reflect for a minute or two.

Most of you know I have two children – twins – and two children only. Because they are twins, every “first” experience has been magnified by a factor of two with the knowledge that it won’t be repeated: the first day of kindergarten, first birthday, first Christmas, and so on. From my perspective, every first has been lightning-fast and twice as challenging.

This year, however, things have been a bit different as we have experienced many “lasts”:

  • Last homecoming dance

  • Last birthday at home

  • Last meal as a family before college drop-offs

It was a summer of preparation in our house – and every home preparing to send kids off to college for the first time. As with most things we’ve experienced, it was twice as challenging since Drew is going to Mississippi State and Mitch is heading to the University of Alabama. There were lists, countless purchases on Amazon, and a seemingly endless parade of boxes being placed in our guest bedroom “holding area.” I have to give my wife full credit here as she spent her entire summer vacation focused on coordinating the complexities of the different move-in dates and different rules for each college to make the planning as frictionless as possible.

All of this preparation took place while we were hurtling towards the finality of their departure and the reality of an empty nest. I’ve come to realize we were moving at the speed of sadness – a velocity that’s alternately lightning-fast and painstakingly slow. In some ways, this summer flew by as there never seemed enough time just to enjoy the last moments the boys were home. But, in other ways, the season dragged on as the date of the final drop-off – August 11 – was set in stone and was ever-present as it loomed ahead.

I’m not going to write a play-by-play of the drop-off experience or how unfair it was that, as parents of twins, we had to go through a gut-wrenching goodbye twice in the span of a few days. If you follow me on Facebook, you can see my posts there. However, the one lesson I took from this entire experience was how critical it was to move past my selfish sadness to focus on the happiness of two bright young men.

Driving home from Tuscaloosa on August 11 was, in a word, torture. As Sandy and I bit back our tears, we discussed that while it was essential to cry because our sadness is real, we will all be better served to focus on their happiness – and that’s what we are trying to do. That’s not to say there aren’t melancholy moments because there are: the house is quiet, their rooms are unsettlingly empty, and our two-year-old coonhound doesn’t understand where her brothers are. However, those moments of sadness – and the velocity in which they arrive – are overshadowed by the bright future for two young men. I’m not much of a poet, but I did write this and thought I’d post it here:

Moving at the Speed of Sadness

The days, weeks, and months simply fly by,

All hurtling towards an inevitable and somber goodbye.

Boxes are packed, and walls have become barren,

Because we harped on our boys like a Ken and a Karen.

Dorm rooms have been selected, and tuition paid,

We wonder how much you’ll miss having a maid.

We packed the cars with the skill of a Tetris champ,

All the while pretending we were just sending you to camp.

It was finally time to unpack and set up your digs,

Hopefully, neither of your roommates mind living with pigs.

We had one last and final meal at a local college dive,

And all too soon, it was time for us to take our farewell drive.

The hugs were tight with love and allowed to linger,

And done in a way that put us further through the wringer.

This entire summer, we’ve moved at the speed of sadness,

Today, however, that gives way to pride and gladness.

To Drew and Mitch - and all embarking on their "next" journey - fare thee well. To all the parents out there who just left a piece of their heart in a faraway land, find the gladness among the sadness.

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1 Comment

Aug 16, 2021


Thanks for posting this. My wife and I are dropping off our only son to college on Thursday and I can relate to your thoughts. I mentioned to her over the weekend that it feels like summer is ending after we drop him off. We are excited for him to start his new journey and all will be good, but it's just feels different.

Wishing great things for you and your family during this new journey for all!



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