After we've done some pics, I take a second to actually look at the envelope, and it's addressed to church headquarters. I ask the boy what it is, and he says that it's his acceptance. I give him a blank look. He says it again, and I realize, he means it's his official acceptance of his mission call.
I put the letter in my purse, just in case someone wants to see it. I'll mail it afterwards.
On the drive over, I start to get emotional. I know my boy will be in good hands. I know he'll adjust quickly and make friends and be able to take everything in just fine. But I've just spent the past couple of months working more closely with him than ever before, and he's leaving. For two years. And it's not like sending a kid off to college, knowing they'll be home for Christmas. This is two solid years without anything but letters, emails, and a couple of phone calls (Christmas and Mothers Day). I will not see him again until he comes home. Fine or not, I'm going to miss him.
I tell him so, and apologize for getting emotional. I say that I know I'm not supposed to tell him how much I'll miss him or anything like that, because it could make it harder for him to focus on what he's supposed to do. And he just tells me it's okay. I'm allowed to miss him, and it's okay if I say it, as long as I don't ask him to come home. That makes me laugh, because, we both know, I'd never do that! Much as I'm going to miss him, I know he's doing the right thing, and I want him to have the whole two years, no matter what goes on at home.
We drive into the MTC driveway, and a man in an orange vest greets us, says I have a fine-looking Elder, and puts a blue sticky-note on our windshield. He says to continue down the drive, that I'll be told where to pull over. (As we drive along, top down, he's getting thumbs up, and comments like, "sweet ride", "awesome", and "man, that's cool!" And to think, he didn't want to drive in with the top down...)
A little further in, and we're waved into this spot:
Two "host" Elders (young missionaries-in-training) approach to help us with the luggage (they let me heft the largest one from the car without stepping in - seriously?), they ask him some questions (do you have your immunization records? any keys? a phone? do you have your ID? what mission?), and then they're starting to walk away. It was that quick.
I call out, "wait! I need a hug!", and both Elders turn, tell him that yes, in fact, that's sort of required. So my boy gives me one last hug - a very tight squeeze, and I squeeze him back - all his bony skinny self in that grown-up suit...it's almost enough hug to last me two years, I think.
And then he's gone.
And I'm driving away with tears in my eyes.