Today I lost my daughter.
No, not like that. Today she graduated from High School. She will be going to college this Fall. There will be a hole in the house when she’s gone. Sure, you could say that because she is a teenager and was always in her room anyway, never bothering anyone, that not a lot will change. And you’d be correct in some ways, but wrong in others.
It’s weird. For a lot of her growing-up time, I wasn’t around. The military took me places and made me work a lot of goofy hours that kept me from being “here” even when I was “home.”
I tried to be involved as much as I could, but often felt like a failure. She was 100% mommy’s little girl. And that’s good; a girl needs her mother, just like a boy needs his father. But I still felt like I was lacking in even the mediocre standards that I set for myself.
Thankfully, as she grew older, and I was able to “be here” more, we became closer. We bonded over the geeky stuff that drove her mother crazy. It still does, in a lot of ways. We can shorthand conversations with movie quotes and comic book references, and even shared books. I even got her into my favorite band, Rush.
Every so often we will start a seemingly innocuous conversation, and quickly devolve into bad punning or the aforementioned cross-referenced shorthand mentioned above, and her mother will roll her eyes at us or even threaten to slap us for being “silly.”
We just laugh harder.
However much we have grown together, however, she is still mommy’s little girl, in many ways. She knows when she needs her mom (which is more than she might be willing to admit), and she knows that her mom is always there for her, which is perhaps the greatest gift a parent can give to their child.
But she knows she can always come to me when she needs a dose of “dumb,” or to mention something she saw that she thinks I might find humorous, and that makes me feel good.
So today, I reminisce on the last 18 years: on my failures, my successes, and my plain-old dumb luck that provided me with the opportunity to claim that I had some small role in creating this wonderful kid–young woman–and that makes me feel great.
To my wife, I’d like to say “You did a great job, honey. Glad I didn’t screw it up for you,” and to my daughter, “Keep dreaming, keep working, and keep on being who and what you are, because that person is awesome, and I know it.”
So, today I lost my daughter, but she’ll never really be gone…