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Grads will leave 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 become, 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.
As a parent, I am happy that we have done our jobs: preparing our daughter for the road ahead.
On the other hand, those of us staying home while she begins to make her way in the world are getting ready to have our Evergreen-based world 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 very decision I’ve made for more than 18 years.
Graduation is the beginning of her leaving.
I’m not the only one on this emotional rollercoaster: 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. Yet, we are excited about when she we will return home to visit, returning us to our foursome.
I can’t even begin to imagine how I will feel in two years when our youngest daughter graduates — and my husband and I will be empty nesters.
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 their situation now that I’m on the parental end, not the graduate end.
Some of the best advice I’ve gotten about surviving this stage of life is from Peggy Miller, the principal at Bergen Meadow Elementary School. She told me one day over coffee that she had to reinvent herself. It’s not a mid-life crisis, but it’s finding a new perspective on her priorities.
So, with that in mind: 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 a moment to acknowledge to your families the gap you will leave behind when you move on to new endeavors.
To the 275 sets of parents watching their children graduate and riding that emotional rollercoaster with me, I wish you success in reinventing your own priorities.

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