This week we moved Elizabeth into her living learning center at Duquesne University. It took me about 3 days to realize LLC on the orientation schedule meant Living Learning Center, or what I would have referred to as a dorm. We drove up Tuesday morning, leaving the younger kids here in the wonderful hands of Bill's Aunt Betty. (Thank you again Aunt Betty - you are the best!)
It took about an hour from the time we got in line until we were actually unloading stuff into the LLC. We thought this was normal, all part of the process, but it wasn't until later we found out a transformer had blown on the street just in front of Duquesne, making traffic really heavy and slowing down the whole process.
We were met in front of Elizabeth's dorm, I mean LLC, by 2 friendly girls with a big laundry cart. They helped load up everything and we managed to get almost all of her belongings up in one trip. Elizabeth is in a quad, with 3 other roommates. Her room is huge, especially by college standards. Each girl has a bed, wardrobe and desk. They also brought 2 fridges, a microwave, coffee maker and t.v. They have an additional walk in closet for the girls to share since it is such a large room. As everyone was moving in, we noticed a lot of people kept looking in and saying how lucky the girls were to have such a large room. Bill started teasing people, telling them they had their own bathroom, their own kitchen, etc.
Elizabeth's roommates seem to be very nice girls. Beside Elizabeth is Ilene - she lives just north of Philadelphia and is a nursing student. Next is Leanne, also from the Philadelphia area, and she is an education major. And at the end of the group is Rachel, from Buffalo, majoring in Bio Chemistry. All 4 girls arrived within a half hour of each other, which worked wonderfully as they tried to negotiate where to put everything. I loved how these girls interacted in those initial moments - it's a bit overwhelming, to walk into a room having never met these people and yet realize this is who you will be living with for the next 9 months. And then, you have to make some pretty important decisions before you even know anything about them, like who sleeps on the top bunk, where do we put all this stuff, etc. They were so kind to one another - I could see right away why the college choose these 4 girls to live together. They all seem very laid back, very relaxed in their expectations of one another. I think they will be good roommates.
You may notice I am referring to my oldest as Elizabeth and not Lizzy. Until she was in 3rd grade we had always called her Elizabeth. On her way out to a new duty station, she decided she was ready for a change, and introduced herself as Lizzy. I resisted for as long as possible. I had given this child a beautiful name, I had never allowed anyone else to attach a nickname, so I was not thrilled she had shortened it! Eventually even I gave in and began calling her Lizzy, at least in front of her friends. So, I was pleased when she decided to go back to Elizabeth in college. It's a beautiful name for a beautiful girl.
There were meetings and events planned for the parents as well as the students. On Wednesday, we attended several meetings as they gave us a lot of information and outlined the colleges expectations of our students. I liked Duquesne when we visited last January for her music audition, and I was already very happy with her choice of schools, but I have to say, after what was presented to the parents in those first few days, I now LOVE Duquesne. I believe it is the perfect fit for Elizabeth!
On Wednesday we attended the Matriculation ceremony. It was a beautiful ceremony, where the students and their parents are officially welcomed into the Duquesne "family". It was wonderful to hear the college leadership challenge these kids to work hard and excel in their academics, but even more importantly, they were called to a life of service. They were challenged to leave the school as better human beings, going out to serve their communities. I loved that we prayed with our children and for them, extending a hand of blessing over them as we sang a beautiful hymn, "The Hand of God". There are the words-
"The hand of God shall hold you, the peace of God enfold you, the love of God that dreamed and formed you still surrounds you here today; The light of God beside you, above, beneath, inside you, the light that shines to guide you home to the loving hand of God."
Of course, I couldn't sing a word of it, although I felt every bit of it in my heart. I cried through the whole ceremony, and I was embarrased to be so emotional until my sweet husband leaned over and whispered, "It's o.k." That was his way of letting me know it was o.k. to cry, let it all out. And I saw quite a few mom's reaching for their tissues at the same time, even a Dad or two wiping away a tear.
After the matriculation ceremony we kissed her goodbye. She still looked a little overwhelmed, but I spoke with her yesterday and she was sounding more like herself. It was hard to say goodbye, knowing I won't see her every day, but I am so proud of the choices she has made, so proud of the young woman she has become. I know I am leaving her in good hands, and I believe with all my heart this is part of God's perfect plan for her life. I miss her already, but I couldn't be more excited for her!
You might think this baby picture is an odd way to end a posting about your child going off to college. There is a sweet story attached to this picture. On Tuesday night, the 3 of us went out to eat, and as we were walking out of the restaurant, I heard someone say, "Bill Cole! What are you doing here?!" I turned to see one of Bill's West Point classmates and an old family friend, Jim Fritsche, standing in front of us. As soon as I saw Jim, I knew what he was doing there.
When we were stationed at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, I first met the Fritsche's. Ramona and I were both pregnant with our first children. It was fun to watch our tummies grow together, attend each other's baby showers, and I remember well holding my 5 day old daughter in the hospital as we watched Jim and Ramona rush down the hallway to welcome their daughter Amanda into the world. The picture above is the girls,(Amanda on the left, Elizabeth right with her mouth open) less than a month old, and now they live 2 floors apart from one another. I hope they become friends. I believe God planted that little seed of friendship in their hearts 18 years ago.