- by Mack the Knight

Dear {insert name of family member here},

I remember it like it was yesterday.

We were standing at the top of the hill. The Hudson River, along with my future, lay before me.

I was about to start my college journey, the pinnacle of freedom. And yet, just like when I started kindergarten, I couldn’t let go of your hand.

You calmed my fears. You promised to always just be a phone call away, and made a joke about how you can cut 15 minutes off of the drive to campus if I’m in trouble. You lugged all of my belongings into my new room without complaint and made a run to Target to get the things I’d forgotten (and you didn’t even say “I told you so” when I’d insisted I didn’t need cleaning supplies).

But what got me was when you looked me in the eyes and told me you believed in me. You believed I could, and so I did.

You never let on how hard it was for you to let me go. I never knew about the tears you cried on the way home, or the way you stood in my bedroom of my childhood home, feeling empty.

The first few weeks of college, you heard from me just about every day. Several times a day. What I was doing, what I was eating, who I was meeting. But slowly, the calls and texts grew less frequent. And even though you were sad, you knew it was because I was coming into my own. And you were so happy for me.

Student posing with parents

When you came to visit that first time for Family Weekend, it was like you were seeing a new person. I was outgoing. I had made tons of friends. I was involved on campus, excelling in class, and loving life.

All because you believed in me.

Soon, I was home for winter break, but then just as soon back for spring semester, then sophomore, junior, senior year. Visits home became infrequent as I took on campus jobs, started my own club, accepted a summer research position, commuted to the city for an internship.

Through it all, you were always the one I turned to when I needed support. I knew, no matter day or night, that I could call you, whether I was stressed about an upcoming test, needed someone to read my flashcards to me, or just wanted to hear the latest gossip from home.

And you were always here physically. Every game, every award ceremony, every time I just wanted to go on a shopping run. I can’t even begin to calculate the number of times you’ve driven over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.

Student with parents on tennis courts

As I walked across the Commencement stage four years later to the sound of your cheers, I realized something: you’d known all along.

When I stood there hesitating on Opening Day, you knew. When I cried out of homesickness that first week, you knew. When I had to put you on speaker phone while I opened the email letting me know if I got that first on-campus job, you knew.

You knew all of that was leading to this: my success.

So thanks for always believing in me.

This one’s for you.

Student hugging mom at commencment

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