I realized it was going to be a wet school year last Saturday when I got all weepy and teary-eyed at Sonic, where I was working as a parent-sponsor while members of the Yellow Jacket varsity football team participated in a fundraiser.
As the players served food and jockeyed for tips, I glanced up as my oldest son, D.J., gave a man-hug to his long-time friend, Micah Muir.
I rushed over to take a picture, which both boys happily posed for, then turned abruptly around before they could see the tears.
As I snapped the picture, nearly 18 years of my sonís life flashed before my eyes. It suddenly hit me that in a year from now, he will be preparing for college.
Until that moment, I hadnít spent much time worrying about the day when he will pack his bags and move on.
Over the years, Iíve listened to my friends talk about the difficulty of watching a child leave the roost, but Iíve never given it much thought until Saturday, when his senior year suddenly felt like it had officially begun.
As I stood in the scorching heat, with the smell of fried tater tots and onion rings making my stomach growl, all I could think about were the days when D.J. and Micah† - who are now well over 6 feet tall - were waist-high running around the soccer field learning to dribble a ball. I remembered all of the sleep overs, soccer tournaments we braved through rain, sleet and snow and the friendship that had been solidified so many years ago.
I thought about D.J.ís decision to leave soccer to focus on football, a decision that placed him in a different locker room with a different set of teammates - and how all of those changes had come full circle in a simple gesture of support from an old friend.
As D.J. delivered Micah his lunch - and Micah delivered a few bucks to the fundraiser - the two shared a quick hug and pat on the back.
ďThanks brother,Ē D.J. said.
And thatís when the tears hit. (Hang on a sec while I blow my nose.)†
I wasnít prepared for the flood of emotion that suddenly washed over me.
Indeed, itís the simple moments that put life in perspective - how quickly time flies, the power of childhood friendships and the importance of buying plenty of Kleenex during your sonís last year of high school.
Yes, the tears have already begun and itís still two weeks before the official start of the school year.
I have a feeling itís going to be a soggy one.
Sara Vanden Berge is managing editor of the Stephenville Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379 ext. 240.