1. His bedhead when he woke up the morning of college drop-off.
2. How perfectly his life fits into the car.
3. The balloons at the entrance to campus.
4. The moving brigade’s enthusiastic drop-off welcome.
5. A cloud shaped like the whale on his baby blanket.
6. How young he looks.
7. How grown he looks.
8. How your husband grins and pats himself on the back because of how ready your son seems.
9. Saying goodbye next to a dumpster.
10. How he walks away like you’re going to see him again in a few hours.
11. Getting back into the car without a full crew.
12. How dare our house still be standing?
13. When you see that he “forgot” the box of treats that you spent an afternoon running around and assembling.
15. How the air feels so empty and so heavy at the same time.
16. Going to sleep without him there.
17. Waking up without him there.
18. His dang bedroom door that stands and dares you to peek inside.
19. The way you give into that taunt and stand in the middle of his room and kind of wail like that alley cat that’s been hanging around all summer.
20. The 47th person at the supermarket who catches you sitting on the ground crying over the Dr. Pepper display and says you’ll be fine.
21. His car. It sits. His car.
22. The well-meaning friend who tries to give you ideas for the room, like a gift-wrapping station.
23. Wondering what you’re going to be doing with your day now that you’re not running to the grocery store once in the morning, and again before dinner.
24. How excited your husband is when he realizes the water bill will go down.
25. Choking and sputtering at that first drive-thru order of just four burgers instead of “six burgers, please, two with double patties and extra bacon.”
26. Staring at the world’s smallest laundry pile, wishing it were a mountain again instead of the bitty hill before you.
27. How damn happy he looks in those damn pictures.