A mother says farewell to her son as he embarks on his college journey.

Author: Kerith Mickelson ’91

Move In Photo by Matt Cashore ’94

Dear Son,

You leave for college today, and I don’t want you to leave without telling you some things I wish I had said more often.

Thank you for always putting the lid down, and for always saying “thanks.” For always hugging your grandma, and for the countless dishes you’ve done and trash bags you’ve taken out.

Thank you for making the most of being wedged in between two sisters. You are the best brother — I don’t know how you do that — you mean the world to both of them.

Thank you for never letting go of greenie, not because it’s a blanket, but for all the things it stands for. Thank you for being loyal.

Thank you for being open to other adults who see the goodness and potential in you and for making mistakes and learning from them. Thank you for forgiving yourself. It’s made you quick to forgive others.

Thank you for getting good grades in school, but not being over the top about having those define you. Thank you for liking plants. And candles. And diffusers.

Thank you for not letting your tremors in your hands have any power over you. They can be an asset. When I saw Dad’s and Grandpa’s hands shake and noticed how much it doesn’t bother them, my respect tripled. Same with you.

Thank you for living life fully and for embracing high cliffs. And flipping off of them. Thank you for waking me up when you come in. And for telling me to drive with both hands. Thank you for showing me your heart with the beautiful, loud country music you listen to. And the stuff with a great dance beat.

I am going to miss you. I’ll miss you snuggling the dogs. And I’ll miss you walking in the door and asking me to buy you pre-workout. I’ll miss you kissing me goodnight on the lips and always saying I love you.

Go be awesome at college. The people you surround yourself with will be lucky because you care. You actually do.

I walked at night for several weeks leading up to your birth. I loved the cold, dark December nights. And I felt so good — you were so easy to carry, like a basketball strapped to the front of me — like I was made to carry you. I still feel that connection, and I always will. Regardless of where you live. Come home whenever you need a break. Don’t worry, you aren’t so far away. Or maybe you are, but I’ll make chicken goop.

I miss you and you haven’t even left yet.


Kerith Mickelson, a Program of Liberal Studies graduate, is a high school teacher and freelance writer in Phoenix. When she’s not staying cool in the pool, she loves practicing tai chi and watching movies with her husband and three teenagers.