When you are a writer you often turn to the process of writing to work through difficult emotions and fears. For me, this is one of those times. My only daughter is off to college tomorrow.
I am sitting in my office and I am feeling lost. She is not my only child nor my first to go off to college. I cried and had a hard time 4 years ago when my oldest son moved into his dorm for the first time. But I must admit, this is different.
When I look at my sons, I see myself. They look like me and when we are all together people certainly see that we are family. But when I look at my daughter, I REALLY see myself. She does not resemble me in the same way, but we are similar in so many ways: our humor, our view of life, our interests and desires.
She was a lucky kid that I started taking to concerts when she was in elementary school. As the years went by, when others were talking about TV shows from the night before, she was telling tales of big arenas or little show halls and the bands she saw the night before. Yes, this was even on a school night!
When I tell stupid jokes, the rest of my family wonders why. She laughs. When no one else is up for an adventure, she is ready. When I want to stop by a record store and everyone else might want to stay in the car, she is counting her money to see if she has enough to buy some old LP’s as well.
I am on the road a lot and she has traveled with me on work trips to places like California, New England, and the Midwest. When my wife was unavailable, she has accompanied me to work functions like holiday parties. When she was younger, we would travel to lacrosse tournaments all over the Southeast and I would never tire of it. Essentially, she has been a trusted companion is so many life experiences.
I know the truth. All of this will not magically end. We will travel again together, she will laugh at my stupid jokes, and she will continue to be my daughter. But I also know the whole truth. She won’t be around as much, she will be busy with a new chapter in her life, and her room at home will mostly be silent.
The first characteristic of an Everyday Steward is to be mindful. We are called to be mindful of all the gifts we have been given at all times and be ready to hear the call of Christ on a daily basis. Some eighteen years ago, God gave my wife and I a gift more precious than I realized. I have tried to be mindful of my time with her as much as I could. However, I wish I could go back in time and try even harder. But those days will never come again. A new day is dawning and hope springs eternal. I know the truth and she isn’t leaving forever. I know this feeling will subside and change.
But for today, I am beside myself with emotion. To all those out there who love someone, be mindful of their presence in your life. Don’t ever take them for granted. Don’t ever say, “maybe later” if you can actually act now. Later will come and then you might find it’s too late. Love freely and never hold back. And if and when the time comes and that person has to move on, know that the tears you shed and the ache you feel only exists because you had the chance to love in the first place and most importantly you took it. Then you will give thanks to the One who creates all things, for without love, life is dark and quiet.
There she goes.