Nothing prepared me for the onslaught of conficting feelings I have felt the last couple of days. My 18 year old daughter Elisabeth is now a freshman at a university, and I dropped her off yesterday with my wife and two of my children. I am sure that this is a great thing for her to do, and I am very proud that she was able to be accepted to this school. I am happy for her, as I know she will grow a lot, and God’s blessing is upon her. I have always feared this day.
I remember watching Father of the Bride with Steve Martin back in 1994. I was a basket case as I identified with Martin’s character whose daughter was getting married and moving away. My daughter was five at the time. I figured I would deal with the pain later, when she was ready, and I reasoned that I would be too.
But a funny thing happened in the last thirteen years. I spent hours upon hours with my daughter. Going to school concerts, eating around the table, praying at bedtime, driving her to school, picking her up from school, and a myriad of trivial, mundane, unimportant tasks and responsibilities that are mostly forgotten. Until now. Now these little forgotten moments have taken on the breathtaking beauty of a golden sunset over a golf course, and every word, joke, laugh (especially laugh), song and nuance is remembered and treasured in a way that never seemed possible.
How did I ever come to this day so unprepared? How do I respond? The choices are few. 1. Don’t think about it too much and keep your composure, or 2. think about it a lot and let your heart savor the sweet pain that can only be felt by a very involved, loving parent who is now without the daily banter of their very beloved child. I alternate between the two. Right now I am wiping away the tears as I indulge option number 2.
Anyway, the only possible advice I can give to you parents who have yet to be in my shoes, I offer but one bit of advice. Suck the juice out of every second that God gives you with your family. It is unspeakably precious, and the clock will not be rewound for any of us. Take your kids out to dinner often. Get inside their thoughts. Never waste time fretting about stupid stuff that won’t matter anyway. Realize that every day, hour, minute, and second with a loved one is a gift.
There will be more on this topic, I am sure.