The first one eased out the door after 18 months of using her bedroom as a dorm, having no curfew, coming and going at all hours, driving us crazy with worry, and losing her religion joyously, like a kid throwing confetti into the air and with no apparent shame as she said to us, “Yeah, I don’t go to church anymore.”
The second one seemed dislodged in the vacuum left by the first and lurched about in uncertainty for a time, half in and half out, spending every third night with friends and finally just not coming back. She also lost her religion and ruined the carpet of her room with her paints. But it is her nature to worry about what we think of her, so she apologized profusely for both the carpet and the apostasy.
A long time seemed to go by because the third one wasn’t as interested in leaving. She clung to her mother and father, playing cards with us on Friday nights and so decidedly NOT going out with friends that for a time we wondered if perhaps she didn’t have any. But she is a careful and thoughtful soul and apparently was pacing herself for a sprint at the end. There came a driver’s license and a first boyfriend and college acceptance, and then we we dropped her off in Arkansas, drove home thoughtfully, opened the door to our empty house and said to each other, “What next?”