This Christmas holiday, our daughter Rachel has been home from college.
|This is Rachel with her roommate, Lucia
Provo is four hours away from us, so needless to say, it's not like she just pops in whenever she wants a warm meal or needs to do laundry. When she does come home, which I think was a total of three times last semester, it's a BIG deal.
We LOVE having Rachel home. It's like Christmas when she's here...even if it's in October!
She's a freshman this year, so this last semester was her first down there. Our family has had a hard time getting used to her being gone these last few months. Especially our little ones.
They just don't understand where she's going. We tell them that Rachel is going to college, but I think it's just some big, grey cloudy abyss in their minds. They just don't get it.
This last fall, my husband Doug took the kids down to visit her, and while he was down there, took our oldest son, Rayce to a football game (I don't know if it was Rachel or the football game that was the real reason!) while all the girls hung out together.
While the kids were down there, they were able to finally have a place that they could picture Rachel in. They saw her dorm room. They met her roommates. They walked around campus. They ate at J Dawgs.
When we talk about Rachel being in college, they can now relate the place that they saw to where she is at college.
Except for Ryker. Ryker stayed home with me that weekend.
So we sent Rachel off yesterday, driving back to college with a friend to get ready for her next semester.
The scene that she leaves at home is the same every time.
Our little ones cry and cry when she leaves. They feel really sad about her being gone, and it's hard to understand when she'll come home again.
Rayce and Ari probably have some understanding of where she's going, and that she's going far away when she leaves for college.
Yesterday, when Rachel left, Ryker got it into his head somehow that he wanted to go to college, too. He loves to go places. Usually, when he's going places, he's just going bye-bye. This was different. He wanted to go to college.
So Doug had gotten him all ready to go run errands with him, while the rest of us took our Christmas decorations down and put them away.
After Doug had him ready, we realized that he didn't need to leave after all. So as Doug stood at the garage door fixing a light switch, he decided to let Ryker go outside and ride his tricycle, since it was so warm outside.
|yes, the tricycle is pink. and purple. the result of him having a big sister. don't hate me.
I went outside a couple of minutes after he got out there, and he was out in the field, just past our driveway (to the left in the picture above). I told him to bring his bike back onto the driveway, and he told me he was going to college. I told him no, that he wasn't going to college, and made sure he got his tricycle back onto the driveway. I didn't think much of it.
Until Doug looked out there a couple of minutes later, and Ryker was gone. G.O.N.E. We live in a pretty small subdivision, as far as the number of houses. There are only about 19 houses in here, and 10 lots that haven't been built on yet. The lots are about 1 acre each, so things are a little spread out, but nonetheless, a small, quiet neighborhood in a small, quiet country town. We feel comfortable letting our kids go outside and play while we're within earshot and can see them, even if we're inside the house. My husband was standing right inside the house at the door by the garage, and could just turn his head and look at Ryker while he played.
Somehow, in the space of just a couple of minutes while Doug had his head turned, Ryker had disappeared.
Doug jumped onto the 4-wheeler and drove through the neighborhood. Ryker was nowhere. He went out to the main road, which is three houses and three more empty lots down from ours. Couldn't see him on the main road.
As Doug looked, I sent my big girls to the neighbors' houses to ask if they'd seen him. I called 911. Fear spread through me, but somehow I knew that he'd be okay.
After what seemed forever, but was actually only two or three minutes, Doug called me. I could hear him talking to Ryker, asking him where he was going.
The relief flooded through my entire body to know that Doug was with him, and he knew that our little boy was safe.
I could hear him over Doug's phone, a little distanced, saying, 'I'm going to college...'
Ryker had ridden his little tricycle down our driveway, past the houses in our subdivision, across the country road that our subdivision is built on, and down a little lane that dead ends at the end of the runway of our little local airport. Doug takes him down there sometimes to watch the planes take off.