Even though I still felt like I was moving through some sort of a grief fog, it was time to prepare for my freshman year at Bradley University. My dad was an alumnus and I know he was excited for me to attend.
Thankfully, my close friend Tammy was also heading there, and so were a few other high school friends. Tammy and I chose not to be roommates so we could meet other people and widen our circle.
It suddenly seemed like I had a lot to do in a very short period of time. I was completely clueless. One of my godmothers, my Aunt Carole, picked me up one day and took me to a wonderful store I had never heard of—Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Apparently, they would have everything a girl needs to head off to college.
Together we shopped, choosing bedding, towels, and a little caddy to carry my toiletries to the dorm bathroom. We filled a cart and enjoyed lunch out at a restaurant as well. It was really a wonderful day with one of my favorite people.
Within a few days after that, my dad and I went to visit my paternal grandfather at the nursing home where he lived. Grandpa was 88 years old and was not able to be at the funeral or visitation.
I was anxious about going to a nursing home after spending so much time in one with my mom. But, it was the right thing to go and visit and say goodbye to him before leaving soon for college.
We walked into his room and I know he was glad to have us there. My dad used an extra loud voice so he could hear him and told his dad that I came to visit before leaving for college in a few days.
Oh. Grandpa was having none of that. “What? College? No! She can’t go to college. She’s got to stay home and take care of you.”
“No dad, she will go to college. That’s the plan.”
My heart sank. Should I be going? Who would take care of my dad?
“It’s okay grandpa, dad will be fine. I need to go to college.”
Grandpa didn’t agree. Dad insisted. I sat with a crushed spirit and tentacles of panic started to grip my spirit.
Back at home, I began packing my things. I was heading off to actual college, majoring in Radio & TV. I had high hopes of becoming a game show host and this seemed the best path forward. In all honesty, I hadn’t given choosing a major much thought at all.
I was constantly ‘on’ and entertaining the people I was with. Radio & TV seemed to be the right fit. I was planning on auditioning for the choir, rushing a sorority, and immersing myself in the world of college.
My grief was raw but forward motion seemed to be the logical thing to do. So, I moved forward.
The Dude and I agreed that we would stay a couple but decided not to be totally exclusive. Well, I was ready to be exclusive. Are you kidding me? I finally had a boyfriend and he was pretty great. But, we were crazy realistic and weren’t in love so we said we’d stay together and see where things went.
He did agree that I would come home for his Homecoming dance. Finally. A date to a dance who wasn’t coerced, or bribed, in any way.
In a matter of days, I would be off to Bradley, settle into my dorm room in University Hall, and begin the process of sorority rush.