My brother Luke left for New Orleans at noon today. I assume those reading my blog sort of know the family for the most part, so you probably know he got a fellowship to go teach in the Recovery School District there. I've been helping him with some of the paperwork and the whole, finding a place to stay, getting ready for the Praxis Social Studies Teacher's exam, etc.
My mom asked today why this was so traumatic for everyone. I can't say for sure. It feels much different than one of us leaving to go to college. I think it might be partly because it happened so suddenly, he only got notified he received the fellowship a few short weeks ago. Since then, it's been a blur of anticipatory excitement, studying, crossing things off his "to do" list. We only crossed off "Find a place to stay" last night, so you can sort of see how it's been.
It only hit me last Thursday that I had less than a week before he left, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't cried a little every day since then. I kept asking him, when are you going to leave, again? And he'd tell me, very patiently, but his friends joked about slashing the tires of the Mustang on Monday morning to keep him here.
After I dropped D at camp this morning, I went to my parents' house, Rose woke Anna up, and the "grown-ups" had a breakfast of Diet Coke and Krispy Kreme donuts while we waited for Luke to get there. Then we re-packed his car for him because he had packed like a boy, totally inefficiently. We managed to get most of his gear into the trunk where he could safely leave it in his car overnight if need be. Rose played with her Uncle Luke for the last time for a while. She absolutely adores him. If you ask her what her name is, she'll say "Rosie!" (Really, it sounds more like "Loahsie", because she doesn't have the "R" sound down quite yet.) But that's all because of my brother. I told everyone her name was Rose, that I didn't like Rosie because it sounded too diminutive. We were giving this girl a strong name, after a strong woman, and that was that. Luke, of course, didn't listen to me. He liked Rosie, and anything he said, Rose liked too.
Dang. Crying again. I'm such a baby. I know I'll see him a lot still, that now we have a great excuse to plan a trip (though not until it gets cold in Wisconsin, I am NOT envying Luke those hot, humid summers!) But I was really enjoying being adults in the same city, having the occasional sibling night where the four of us would go out together to a movie or something. And I know he'll be fine, I know he'll be a great teacher, he makes friends easier than anyone else I know, I am sure he will love it there. But the very selfish part of me wants him here, hanging out with my kids, being a 'bad' example sometimes, but teaching them to play baseball and be wonderful friends and fabulous people.
Anna and I were signed up for some volunteer work at Dillon and Rose's school this afternoon, so when Luke's departure got delayed due to his new suit coat being not quite ready at the tailor, I realized we had to leave him. He walked us out to my car, gave Rose a big hug, then Anna and I dissolved into a huge sobbing mess. I managed to drive around the corner before I had to pull over to compose myself before driving the rest of the way to the school. We are all really going to miss him.
I am so proud of Luke for this. He has so many friends here, die hard friends who he's hung out with since first grade. People who would do just about anything for him. And he's still willing to leave his comfort zone to do something right for the world. That's about the best example I could think of for my kids. And the rest of us too.
Drive safely, brother.