The university in the town where I live recently held its commencement exercises. Students graduating and going out into the world. High school students will be graduating soon.
As happens fairly often now, as I grow older, present-day incidents take me back to something in the past.
The graduations remind me of when I drove 1st Daughter to college for the first time. It was a scary time for me. Was she prepared? Had I taught her the right things that would be necessary as she moved away and out into a new world? Would she remember the things I had tried to teach her? Would I miss her too much? Would she not miss me enough?
As we prepared to drive away from home for the hour and a half trip, she told me that she had forgotten something in the house and would be right back. When she returned to the car, we left on an adventure that would take her – and me – through many experiences over the next years.
When I returned home alone, walking into the house was difficult. I was already missing her so much.
As I shuffled forlornly into the kitchen from the garage, I noticed something on the breakfast bar that hadn’t been there when I left the house earlier.
It was a card and a 45 rpm record (this was in 1989 before we had CD’s, iPods, etc.). I realized why 1st Daughter had gone back into the house earlier. The card was to me, from her, telling me that she knew she was ready to leave the nest because of the foundation I had given her. The record was Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath my Wings.”
Tears are forming in my eyes. I can’t hear that song or even think about it without tearing up.
That day it was much worse. I played the record over and over – and cried and cried. I’m not talking about a few tears pooling in my eyes or even trickling down my cheeks. I’m talking about heaving, sobbing, boo-hooing. For the past that was behind us – with all its mistakes and triumphs. For the future that was ahead – with all its unknowns. For the deep and abiding love that I held in my heart for my firstborn.
I knew there were many reasons, besides me, that 1st Daughter would be able to fly successfully. But that day, so long ago, she gave me a beautiful gift. A gift of confirmation, of memory, of joy, of love.
1st Daughter is now in her 30’s. She is a loving wife and mother with many talents and accomplishments. She is an amazing person. She is a daughter still, but she has also become a friend. If possible, I love her even more. And I am so proud of the woman she’s become.