Ashes was accepted to her third college last night. Three of the four colleges we visited have all accepted her. The fourth put her on wait list.
"Now listen,"I said as I was making dinner in our tiny kitchen, and turned around and grabbed her by the shoulders to emphasize my point. "And this is really important. Promise me you'll stick with this. Don't drop out. That first year in college is really stressful and hard, and especially in the first six months you're going to feel the urge to give it up. You're going to miss home, miss your family. It's not going to feel right. Fight the feeling. It gets better, I promise."
She smiled her sad insecure smile, grown a tad more secure by all the good news. "It gets better, huh?"
I smiled, and averted my eyes. "It's kind of like being gay." I moved back to my cooking, amused by my audacity.
She smiled and moved back to the living room.
A few minutes later, she returned, clutching her signed copy of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. One of her favorite books, something she's been trying to get me to pay attention to for months now.
"I want to read this to you," she said, and opened up the first page. "I think he kind of writes the way you do." She cleared her throat. "'Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time thinking about death.'"
I cooked, I listened. I finished cooking, I listened. I sat down in the living room, she sat across from me. I listened as she read the whole first chapter, strong and clear. I sat there, watching her, listening, proud of what I was seeing, what I was hearing.
There's only so much more time left for listening. I want it all.