A Letter to my Daughter on the Eve of Her Leaving

I cannot remember the day I left home. I remember patchy moments from the days between graduation and leaving, but not the leaving itself. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t too choked up about it. After all, I had no idea what it meant. I’m sure I was excited to move to a new city and start a new job, but I have never felt the significance of that day until now.

This week I’ve found myself noting your moments: sitting like always in my chair, wrapped in a blanket, watching TV shows I hate; your last day working the kennel; cuddling with the dogs you will have to leave behind.  Even tonight when we returned from dinner, the four of us marched into the house the way we have always done and it struck me that this would probably be the last time we did that. I wonder if my parents watched me this way, with lumps in their throats, and mist in their eyes. I learned  in later years that your grandfather was a lot more sentimental than he seemed when I was growing up. I’m more transparent.

The leaving seemed so easy when I did it. You asked me why we were sad, your mother and I. “Aren’t you happy for me?” Yes, we’re happy and proud, but you don’t understand. We’re sad for us. Even though you have been ‘grown up’ for some time now, the moment you leave the driveway tomorrow will mark the end of your childhood. A significant portion of our lives have been devoted to your childhood and you’ll have to forgive us if we mourn its end.

And we’re sad for us because we pretty much like being with you and we’re going to miss that. And if we’re being honest, we’re probably a little envious of the adventure you’re about to have. Oh, to be 23 and at the beginning again.

So tomorrow morning I will get sniffly over waffles, and be unable to say anything coherent as we see you to your car, but you need to know, you already know, I have loved these days. It’s been one hell of a journey, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Love you always,

Dad.