Next week I drop my oldest kid off at college. How did it come to this?
I mean, I assumed she’d grow up, this should not be a surprise. But damn Sam – I’ll be fifty this month, and she is gone. In my mind, I am thirty-two, and she should be going to kindergarten.
She still has blonde curly hair, just like the day she entered this world.
At first glimpse, I thought Lisa had birthed a Smurf. Her head was cone shaped, and her skin was blue.
“What’s wrong with our baby?,” I asked the nurse. “She’s the color of Gatorade. And her head is a triangle.”
“She’ll get her color,” the nurse assured me. “She is the first through the birth canal. She’s a pioneer! Her head will smooth out.”
I was thankful I had an older brother.
I used to carry her on my shoulders. I can’t do that anymore without risk of paralysis.
I read to her every night and most often we had a tickle party.
“Daaaaddy. Will you tickle me?” she’d ask.
The moment I’d start she’d curl up into a ball and implore me to stop.
Even when she was older I’d pray with her each night, and we’d argue about who loved each other more.
“I love you the mostest!”
“No! I love YOU the mostest!”
In high school, she danced like a champ, the most graceful girl on the stage. I worked hard not to miss the special moments in her life, particularly over the past five years. I wanted to be there since her mother couldn’t be. I hope that one day I’ll have the opportunity to recount DJ’s life for the woman I most loved.
I was at a funeral last month for a man who was about a decade older than me. His two daughters spoke at the service. They both gushed about the father who had raised them. As one shared memories of how he had parented, she said, and then he gave me wings, the greatest gift he could have given.
In theory, it doesn’t seem that hard. She has to do all the work, all I have to do is let go.
And yet, what a scary thing to do.