I was invited to watch for a while, over time that invitation was relinquished; letting go.
I frequently drove my daughter to school and one day when she was in fourth grade, just before we arrived at school she told me that if I wanted to hug her and kiss her, I should do it now before arriving at school. Those few, benign words slammed in to me like a howling freight train. I stopped at the stop sign and reached over for a kiss on the cheek and hoped she wouldn’t see how hard it had hit me.
I remember calling a friend and doing something that I had not done in twenty years. I cried that day and forever after I was transformed by that event into someone that cried, almost a stranger to myself in this regard.
It was a new destination for me and my daughter. Never a fan of gushy movies, I sat teary eyed as Johnny so famously said; “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” And so I strangely became a fan of the chick flick and I watched with my daughter and her friends the many tear jerking films that I had never seen before or even knew existed.
At one point I found myself needing to gain my composure at a movie theatre while my daughter walked by chuckling. I don’t think she understood then, nor did I, just how much fatherhood had changed me; a new destination.
I had to learn to let her suffer her hurts though they probably injured me nearly as much as they did her. I celebrated her triumphs but more and more at a distance; letting go.
Still there were times, even as a teenager, that she laid her head on my lap and fell asleep while I stroked her hair and listened to her deep slow breathing as I had so alertly done when she was a baby. I was holding on again and she was holding me, too.
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