“She lights up any room she is in, except first thing in the morning.”
“I love to hear her laugh.”
“She is my little princess.”
Her father recalls the countless memories he has of his only daughter. It is hard to imagine what life will be like this fall as his last child leaves for college, embarking on the next phase of her life.
She has waited for this moment for years. Freedom. Independence. Anxiety. Nerves. She is finally going to college. After making the decision to attend Northwestern University in Chicago, it finally hit her that she was graduating. And that she was going to be nine hours away from her family.
It still hasn’t sunk in for her parents. It will be the first time in 23 years that they will have an empty nest. Dinners will be weird, with no kids around the table. They can hardly remember how to cook for two people. The house will be cleaner with no teenagers to pick up after, but they aren’t so sure it’s worth the trade off.
To ease the separation anxiety, he has promised his wife to take her somewhere after they take their only daughter to college. He said his wife will be a “hot mess”, and he thinks they will end up staying in Chicago for a couple of days in case their recent freshman ‘needs something for her dorm room.’ Her mom is also predicting massive amounts of retail therapy on Michigan Avenue.
“All the emotions [of kids leaving for college] will be multiplied because she is the last one,” her mother said.
This “only daughter” will always worry about her parents. She is looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing many new things, but she knows it will be hard, especially since she is the last kid to leave and going so far away.
“When her brothers went off, we still had a child or two to keep us busy,” her father said. “This time there will be an empty feeling, especially since she is the baby and the only girl.”
Unlike her older brothers who went to college at Pittsburg State University and Kansas State University, she knows she won’t be able to visit home as often. She still hopes she can keep the same close relationship with her parents.
They will miss the revolving door of friends coming in and out, talking about weekend plans or looking for food. They will miss everything about her. The month of May has been a cry fest for her mom. Graduation announcements, senior photos, prom, the senior fashion show. Whenever she thinks about graduation, it’s hard not to get teary eyed.
She knows her mom isn’t ready to see her go. Isn’t ready to see her last child depart on the next phase of her life. She sees how upset her mom gets, and she knows it will be hard to leave.
All summer her parents will both be coming home with things for her dorm. To her, it still feels like she is in high school and it hasn’t really hit her she will be leaving. As excited as she is to experience college, it is scary to be going off on her own all the same.
“It will be hard to let her go and we will miss her tremendously,” her father said.
Her mom knows she is “very confident and capable,” just like she taught her to be.
For senior Marianna Messerli and her parents, August will be a time of new beginnings. For Marianna, it means the excitement of college. For Rob and Joellen, it means an empty house for the first time. For all three, it means a whole new adventure.