Mike and MichelleEvery year when our annual trip to The Black Hills is over, I feel a bit of sadness. I always hate to see it come to a close, but this year is a little different. This year it feels like we are leavig something behind…or rather, someone. My niece, Michelle, who is the daughter of my sister, Alena and her husband, Mike, has moved to Spearfish during the time that Bob and I have been on our vacation. She will be going to college at Black Hills State University in Spearfish for the next two years, so she will live there for at least that long. It’s strange to feel like we left something behind, when we didn’t even see Michelle on this trip, but still that’s how it feels.

I remember when Michelle was born. She was a teeny little girl with beautiful eyes. She loved to laugh and made everyone around her smile. With every Michelle Kristine Stevens 6.5 years oldsmile, her eyes danced and her whole face lit up. Michelle was one of those bubbly people who was a lot of fun in any crowd…and yet she was not the type of person to be conceited in any way, and hurting anyone’s feelings was just not her style.

Michelle has always had an artistic flair, and it is that ability that has prompoted this move. She wants to teach art, and to get her degree she must switch from Casper College to a University, in order to get the rest of the needed credits. I believe she will make an excellent teacher…or an amazing artist…if that is what she chooses to do, but the thing that I find very odd, is that she should still be this little girl in grade school. Where have the years gone? Michelle simply should not be old enough to be living on her own…in a different state!! But, she  is and  all those little  girl days are  over for her.

Yes, as Bob and I head home from our vacation, it feels like we are leaving someone Michelle & Alenabehind. That’s because we are. It is little Michelle, who is not so little anymore. She didn’t come over with us, but nevertheless, she is staying behind in The Black Hills to live, work, go to college, and start living her own dreams. For many of us, it is a sad day, because we won’t be able to see her smiling face as much as we used to. For her, it is a bittersweet day, because while she wants to chase her own dreams, she will also feel the twinges of homesickness for a while, and she will miss her family…sometimes terribly. But, she will be fine. She will get used to being away, and the homesickness will ease. All we can ask is that she remembers that we love her, and that she remembers the way home.

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