This is the time of year when we might be more inclined to notice how the young ones have grown. They are reaching milestones. Finishing middle school. Graduating high school. Graduating college. They just finished law school. They are all grown up.
For some, we remember the horizontal lines on the kitchen door frame. That’s how it was in my childhood home. Marks, initials, dates written in pencil, measuring all five of us as we were growing up.
Kelly’s mom was pregnant when I met her. I needed someone to watch the farm when I was away and I found Lori’s ad at the local veterinary office, where she had worked. Her card said “pet sitting.” When I asked if that could extend to sheep, she said “Sure.” Thus was born a friendship, just a few months before Kelly herself was born. We have been close ever since. And I got to watch Kelly grow up.
As soon as Kelly was big enough (or maybe even before) she was picking up lambs. The first time she tried, I’m certain the lamb was bigger than she was. When Lori snapped a picture we didn’t know that a tradition had begun. That every spring Kelly would lift a lamb and we would make a record of it. First Kelly, and then little sister Nikki, holding lambs. Every spring, whether we noticed or not, she was growing up.
It’s been eighteen years now. And it happened so fast. The soccer games when they could barely kick the ball. Middle school graduation. Music concerts. The soccer games now, where their skills are so impressive. I have been honored to be included as “honorary family.” And every spring the lamb picture. I was watching her grow up.
This year’s picture wasn’t easy to get. She’s 18 now and a senior in high school. Her life is busy and she struggled to find the time to come and hold a lamb. Like so many students, she’s had a hard year, marked most memorably by isolation. But here on Whidbey there is some in-person learning happening now. And last month I got to go and watch one of her last soccer games. My goodness. She’s grown up.
In a few weeks she graduates. In the fall she begins classes at the University of Washington. I look at her and feel for all the parents and grandparents shaking their heads with the stunning realization of how fast the time has gone. They’ve grown up.
Prayers for you all. For all of us, in the tender embrace of time.