To say yesterday morning was exceptionally emotional is an understatement. My little guy boarded a bus full of strangers to Maine, off to Experience Camps –an amazing week-long program tailored for children who have experienced the death of a parent. It’s a regular camp with fun activities such as waterskiing, boating, tubing, hockey, baseball, you name it–but much-needed grief work is threaded in during campfires and activities. The children share an immediate bond they don’t have with their classmates, as most kids have not lost a parent by age 9.

While I know when he returns that same bus will be full of friends, it was excruciating to let him go. Thankfully, I had his 22-year-old sister for support, the only other person in this world who loves Alex on par with me.  When I lost it, she covered for me. When I needed a specific item for his bag, she helped me find it. When Alex started to have doubts, she made him smile. Together, we labeled everything that could be labeled, packed everything that should be packed (and then some), and infused Alex with all of the extra TLC he needed to take such a brave step in his young life.

I’m honestly in awe that I have had anything to do with these kids–one biological and one bonus, both deeply loved. They’re extraordinarily kind people with beautiful hearts, despite the fact that they have endured more than most.

While I have had to wash my face more than once due to horribly smudged eye makeup , I am such a proud mom this morning. And I got some great pictures from camp that show I made the right decision.

Yup, only my kid has writing on his chest for “College Wars”–that’s so him–and Mom’s not around to make him wash it off either.

Enjoy your freedom, my sweet boy. It’s hard to be away from you, but spirited kids need time to spread their wings, and I know you will soar. I will be waiting in those wings.