A Goodbye and an Amaryllis


My daughter headed back to college this morning. Second semester of sophomore year. We got up early to cram her bags into the car. She left with three times more stuff than she came home with a month ago. What happened?


As she drove away, I was flooded with emotions –an experience I know that I share with many, many parents. Mostly, I fret about her being okay, about her having what she needs to thrive.


Strangely, I found comfort in the amaryllis plant on my kitchen counter.


One day in early December, the sound of the doorbell alerted me to a package delivery. On the porch, I found a cardboard box, with the words “This End Up”, laying on its side. I unpacked a potted amaryllis plant. Dirt was everywhere. I did my best to re-surround the bulb with dirt, and I gave it a lot of water. And then I waited. Honestly, for the past month, it seemed destined to die.


Today, I spotted the start of a green stalk.


Like the amaryllis, my daughter started college this fall a bit sideways. She was transferring from another university - one that she discovered was not, as she had hoped, her perfect fit. And just prior to school starting in August, she broke up with the boy she had been dating for a year. She left with a broken dream and a broken heart. Today, she departed right side up. And still, I worry.


As I examined my plant today, I had a realization. The green stalk is not the product of my concern for its wellbeing. It is growing because it is hearty, and its needs are met. Enough light, a proper container, and periodic water.


I need to remember that my daughter has grit. She’s in a supportive environment with good friends, caring professors, and a thoughtful academic advisor. Her home is warm and her roommate, a gem. And when she encounters the struggles that will come, she knows that caring family members are a phone call away, eager to listen or offer encouragement.


She will bloom.