Luke Bryan and wife Caroline Bryan sent his nephew Til off to college on Saturday, a major occasion marked with an emotional post shared by the family matriarch on Instagram. Caroline published a photo of the two in an embrace — a heartbreaking snap alongside a tender message.
"I left a big piece of my heart today in Georgia," Caroline captioned the photo of herself with Til, the son of Bryan's sister Kelly Bryan and Ben Cheshire, who are both deceased. (The Bryans also take care of Til's two older sisters.) "Been dreading this day for years, but I guess it's time for Til to fly. Still can't handle it right now! Good luck in college my sweet boy."
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Hundreds of Caroline's followers wished Til the best of luck. "He will do great!! I know you are going to miss him terribly! Love you," one friend wrote. "Til, sending you all of the best for a successful first year of college!!! Proud of you," added Cassie Kelley, wife of Lady A member Charles Kelley.
The American Idol judge and Caroline welcomed Til and his sisters into their home after their parents died. In an interview with the Get Real podcast in January 2019, Caroline explained that Kelly died unexpectedly. Later, Cheshire had suffered a massive heart attack in front of her and Til. "That was the other worst day of our life. So Til [Luke's nephew] moved in with us immediately," Caroline explained at the time. "The girls [Til's older sisters Jordan and Kris] are back and forth constantly, they're still in college. And then we lost our niece Brett when she was seven months."
Caroline and Bryan are also parents to sons Thomas, 12, and Tatum, 9. That means things can get a little crazy in the Bryan household. "Trust me, there are times when I just lose my s—," Caroline told Get Real. "Sometimes I just go sit in the shower and cry. I struggle with Luke being gone all the time and how to make everybody happy and how to make this charity [for her late niece Brett] go well. It's hard to be alone a lot."
While on the Today Show last year, Bryan praised Caroline for the "work that she puts in" with their children. "I mean, it's just amazing. I look at her phone and it's just pinging and vibrating and going off constantly, and it's the children," Bryan said.
Bryan has had more time on his hands at home. The coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for him to tour. This week, he had to cancel his 2020 Farm Tour shows due to the health crisis. "We have looked at all kinds of ways to continue with the shows this year but couldn't come up with a solution to give y’all the full Farm Tour experience while keeping everyone safe," Bryan wrote on Instagram. "Until next year! Love y’all."