In the moment, I met Piper, our baby girl, a string quartet was playing "Moon River." Nearly 18 years have passed since that Sunday night in a hotel lobby in Nanchang, China.

I never hear that song without thinking of that moment. To join in fully, if possible, please find the Audrey Hepburn version of the Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini song and listen along as you read.

Moon River, wider than a mile. I’m crossing you in style someday.

I once read that the simple song lyrics are about looking to the future and the past simultaneously — a fitting way to approach this strange time. After much ado and many twists and turns, our dear little Piper will finally graduate from high school and be off to Louisiana State University, in short order.

To say that we are proud of Piper and her sweet, gentle spirit would be an understatement.

Oh, dream maker, you heartbreaker, wherever you’re going, I’m going your way.

May she and the rest of the class of 2020 move forward in this crazy world with care and embrace the sense of adventure required to make the most of these tumultuous times.

May they make a point to throw in fun for good measure.

I pray that she and her fellow graduates will put on their explorer hats and take the plunge to figure out the best ways to build new relationships and make friends as they approach the next stage of life. I pray that they will never underestimate the power of laughter and companionship — all the while using their noggins to make the best choices.

I pray they will find plenty of light but also have enough courage to navigate through the dark. I pray they don’t focus too much on previous expectations for the coming years. Instead, may they make the absolute best of this new reality.

Two drifters off to see the world.

Some advice: Be kind to yourself, sweet Piper. Be kind to others. Laugh loud. Be quiet. Be bold. Be cautious. Listen to others. Listen to yourself. Go with the flow. Make waves. Find peace. Make a ruckus. Rely on and use your strength. Embrace vulnerability.

All in all, listen to your head and your heart to weigh your options or trust your gut to know when to do what.

Piper admits that she’s nervous about what comes next.

There’s such a lot of world to see.

When I asked how she’s feeling, she said, “Meh — that’s my whole attitude. There’s just nothing else I can do. I can control my approach to it, but I can’t control the unsettledness in this world and the way things are changing every day.”

She said she’s working on hyping herself up about going to college primarily online, with her primary concern being, “Will the food will be good?”

She’s also concerned about making new friends.

Even with classes in her first semester being primarily virtual, she believes the dorm will be the place to make new friends. She’s never met her new roommate from St. Francisville, but they’ve chatted often.

We’re after the same rainbow’s bend.

“I’m glad that it happened like this. I missed some of the things I had expected, but good things have happened,” she said. “I’m excited, but I don’t have high or low expectations. I’m trying to be realistic and consider that what’s going on worldwide. Adults, even college administrators, can’t make good decisions necessarily. I believe, for the most part, they’re trying to do the right thing.”

She readily admits that she’s going to miss her family.

“I’m worried about how my family is going to survive without me!” she said. “I’m also worried for me.”

She said she’s getting pre-homesick homesickness.

“The anticipation of being homesick is making me homesick — and I’m still at home!” she said with a laugh. “I’ll be fine. I’m just overthinking it all.”

Waiting round the bend.

May she know that we love her with all our hearts.

Dear little one, also know that I am forever a better version of myself because you have been with me. I thank all the powers of the universe for putting us together. Harkening back to the ancient Chinese believe that an invisible red thread connects all the people who are supposed to meet, know that I am grateful for that amazing invisible red thread that brought you to me and me to you.

I am forever grateful to be your mom.

My huckleberry friend.

Moon River and me.

Email Jan Risher at janrisher@gmail.com.