Endings are hard.
Last Saturday, Rachel and I went back to Missouri for our son’s graduation from MS&T. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science and already has a job lined up. We’re so proud of him and I can say with certainty that more than a few tears were shed that day. It was especially memorable because he graduated from the same college that Rachel and I did. It was even in the same building.
Looking back on his school career, it was hard to imagine this kind of ending. As parents, we doubt ourselves, our choices–everything we do for them. Early on, we made the choice of home schooling both our kids when we felt the system wasn’t meeting their needs. Later on, we had them transition to high school when we weren’t able to challenge them. Each decision required endless hours of discussion and a lifetime’s worth of hand ringing. At times we were sure we were doing the wrong thing, but over time, we did the work–and so did they–and things turned out fine. More than fine. I couldn’t be more proud of both our kids.
On the long drive back to Colorado, after watching my son walk across the stage for his graduation, I couldn’t help but think about the characters from the Hundred Halls. Each one of them joined the magical university with bright ideas about what they might accomplish, worries about what they might struggle with, and fears they wouldn’t be good enough. In the end, they all make it through the Halls in their own way, growing as people even if it wasn’t in the way they expected when they first set out on their journey. I think that’s one of the things I really enjoy about writing these books, existing in these characters’ shoes for five plus years, going through their struggles and not always knowing how things will turn out.
As my son transitions to the work world, I can’t help but think he’s back to ground zero on those concerns and fears. It’s not always going to be easy. There will be setbacks and victories, anxieties and joyful moments. Nothing, not even the lives of the characters I’m writing, turn out the way you expect it. I just hope like any good novel, he gets to write his own happy ending.