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It seemed like a good plan. While Beth started her freshman year at Harvard, I would live off-campus for transition support. The summer rushed by and I still needed to find a place to stay. Rundown studio apartments in Cambridge started at about $1,400 a month in 2004, so I decided to rent a room instead. I found a rare bargain several blocks from Harvard: one of two bedrooms in a tiny apartment for $600 a month. I’d share the space with a young woman, a church organist, from Ohio.
Late in August, Beth and her close friends met for breakfast on the day Lizzy left for college. They each chose different schools in three states. Her friends wore rings engraved with the word HOPE, the same one they gave Beth after her injury. The same one she never took off. Ellen and Lizzy had the same week off for spring break and planned to fly to Boston for their first visit to Harvard. They hugged and said teary goodbyes in the Burger King parking lot. I’d miss her friends, too, and their gift of contagious laughter.
Beth wasn’t the only one saying sad goodbyes to friends and family. We prepared the best we could for our separate adventures. I anticipated what she would need and made piles along the wall in our dining room. John doubted it would all fit in Beth’s car. He was right, but the items at the top of my list made the cut. I put an old backup wheelchair in the car topper and stuffed pliable bags of towels and sheets around it.
I checked my list twice, three times. A reassuring task on the brink of a college experience out of my control.
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