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Grads will leave an empty place behind

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

“As soon as you walk out of our door … everything’s going to change, and it won’t change back. Not to the way it is now. I am so happy for you … and I am so proud. … Sometimes I want my sweet little (child) back. I’m going to miss you a lot.”
— from the TV show “Glee”

It seems every time I turn around, I hear or see something that reminds me of the emotional roller-coaster my family is going through as our older daughter graduates from Evergreen High School on May 26.
On the one hand, we are thrilled that she is graduating and has been accepted to Colorado State University, the only place she wants to go. We are happy for the beautiful, confident, intelligent young woman she has turned into, and we know she is on the path to a fulfilling adulthood. She’s ready to leave high school behind and take on the challenges of college.
On the other hand, our world is getting ready to be shaken. She’s one of the last people I say good night to every night and one of the first I say good morning to every morning. She’s part of virtually every decision I make, and she has been for more than 18 years.
I’m not the only one on this emotional roller-coaster: My husband and 16-year-old daughter are in the midst of it, too. We are anticipating making new routines with three rather than four, including something as simple as moving the spots where we sit at the dinner table.
It’s not like I won’t be busy after she leaves for CSU in August. My daughter and husband are still at home, and I have both a job and a business that I love. However, the knowledge that she won’t be there every day is daunting.
I can’t even begin to imagine how I will feel in two years when my younger daughter graduates.
I’m lucky that I have a strong relationship with my daughters. I’m always sad when school starts after vacations because I prefer being with them. They are so much fun, and I marvel that I gave birth to such wonderful human beings.
Some of the best advice I’ve gotten about surviving this stage of my life is from Peggy Miller, the principal at Bergen Meadow Elementary School. She told me one day over coffee that she had to re-invent herself. She didn’t change jobs but just needed a new perspective on her priorities.
What is bothering me just as much about this momentous occasion is looking back at my own departure from home as I left for college. I wish I could remember whether, at 18, I understood the impact my departure must have had on my family. I wish I could remember if I acknowledged that fact verbally to my parents or if I was so busy with the excitement of my life that I ignored their feelings.
I wish my parents were still alive so I could tell them belatedly that I understand how difficult my leaving was for them now that I’m on the parental end, not the graduate end.
To the 275 students graduating from EHS on Saturday, congratulations on achieving this milestone, and I and your families wish you every success. Please take the time to acknowledge to your families the gap you will leave behind when you move on to new endeavors.
To the 275 sets of parents who are watching their children graduate, I wish you success in re-inventing your own priorities.

Deb Hurley Brobst is the contributing editor for the Courier. E-mail her at deb@evergreenco.com.