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“I’m going out with work friends after work. They will bring me back to work so you can pick me up.” Marie’s text message on Friday afternoon to Ralph and I.

I paused before replying.  Not asking us. Just informing us.

Marie is the oldest and last of our children to move toward independence. Both Will and Patty are living together in another city. In the first part of 2016, we strongly urged Marie to move out of our house and find an apartment or a condo. We looked up apartment complexes and visited several. Ralph met a real estate agent/nurse at his cardiac rehab program and Marie and I looked at condos with her. Twice we were at the stage of signing papers; one to buy a one bedroom condo, one to rent an apartment. Only to back away at the last moment.

We went to Ohio for a weekend to pick up Patty from  grad school, leaving Marie at home alone. Marie cannot drive and had no friends that we knew of to hang around with. She was lonely and bored. After we got back, she informed us that she did not want to live alone. She then went up to her room and used half of the money she had saved for the down payment on a condo to pay off some of her student loans.

So much for our efforts to push her toward independence.

Then Ralph was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in June. Our doctor made an appointment for him to be evaluated by a bone marrow transplant team in July.

I realized that we had to move out of our 100 year old house due to his immune deficiency, especially if he was going to get a bone marrow transplant.

To be honest, I had long talked about moving. I felt overwhelmed by all the stuff in our house, by the maintenance work that we could not keep up with, by the outside chores. Ralph had been ill since the fall of 2014. When I talked about moving, he said, “We can’t move until I have fixed it up.” But he wasn’t strong enough to do the work. And I didn’t have the time or the skill.

So I suggested helping Marie with a down payment on a condo, and having her get a mortgage with her job and her stellar credit. She had savings and no debt except her remaining student loan payments. And I believe God prepared this condo for this situation in our lives. This was the only property we looked at. We took a tour on July 3, 2016. Marie signed the mortgage on August 11, 2016. We moved in on August 20.

Instead of Marie living with us in our house, we are now living with Marie in her condo.

So yesterday, she let us know she was going out after work with Friends. With people we don’t know. Friends she had made at the job that God supplied. The first time she has ever done this alone. We have always supervised her outings or made sure she was with people that we knew and trusted. For me, it was almost as hard as the day that Will got on a plane by himself and flew to California for a week. I was nervous. But I couldn’t say no.

At eight, I texted her to see how it was going.

“We are walking around Rockford. We are having a good time,” she replied.

As the evening wore on, I said to Ralph, “You can start texting her at 10 to see when she is coming home.”

At 10, Ralph didn’t get any response. Texting or calling.

I messaged my younger daughter, Patty – Well, Marie is out with friends. I have never met these friends.

Patty – So? You don’t get to be protective like that forever. Let it go.

I texted Marie, and asked her to please call me. She called me at 11:00 and said she was on her way. I could hear the voice of the young man who was bringing her back home in the car. I asked if he was going to bring her home.

When she came home, we didn’t say anything about our concerns. We asked her what she did and did she have a good time. She had a wonderful time. They laughed a lot. Went to a restaurant that several different kinds of locally brewed root beers. They ate fried mushrooms, fried pickles, and chili dogs. We did mention that we would like it in the future if when she went out with her friends to have them drop her off at the condo. That way we wouldn’t have to go out in our car to get her late at night.

Patty is right. We can’t protect her forever. She will have a life of her own even while we live together. 80% of the employees at her job are required to have some sort of disability or health condition that is a barrier to employment. The young man who organized this outing is about 28 and just got his license last year. Four of them went out. Two young women and two young men. It’s normal for some of them to never be able to drive. And they took care of each other.

I’m not sure, but this might have been a date.

I guess I’ll have to get used to it…