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Today I Dropped My Daughter With Autism Off at College

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And just like that, Lizzie is at college. She is living on her own. She did it. We did it.

The girl who at the age of 2 was slapped with a lifelong label infused with both said and unsaid limits overcame them all.

There was no way to adequately prepare myself for the mixed bag of big emotions currently coursing uncontrollably through my body.

Joy because of that beautiful smile on her face.
Joy because of an impossible dream realized.
Joy because of the many God-sized miracles witnessed to make it happen.
Guilt because we are the exception.

Pride because she worked ridiculously hard every single day.
Pride because she never gave up despite her many challenges.
Pride because she is such an incredibly beautiful person, inside and out.
Fear because the world can be cruel, and I can no longer protect her.

And most prominently, the emotion taking over my whole being is the heart-wrenching sadness of already missing the girl who brought me daily happiness.

For almost two decades, the work has been done together — the therapy, tutoring, and managing of the next challenge. Now the work for me is learning how to be apart — letting go and giving her the freedom she deserves.

Originally published: August 29, 2021
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