And so it begins again — the feeling that I am losing my daughter. That somehow, despite the glass being half full, and something about girls always loving and needing their daddies, and something about how I will always be the first man who mattered in her life, I am, once again, losing my daughter.
I have already lost one, and I was right. Though I love her as much as I always have, and I’m sure she feels the same, things have never been the same. Though she still sleeps here sometimes, it feels like she visits — even when it’s for months on end.
And so it was that I was sitting here last night watching television while my current senior in high school was sitting and doing her homework, I looked over at the table where she was sitting and that thing happened, where all the breath feels like it is suddenly sucked out of my lungs, and my eyes well up, and I instinctively look the opposite direction, which after 25 years of marriage and raising girls together, is a dead giveaway to my wife that I’m doing it again — looking at one of my girls, and loving her, and marveling over her, and mourning deeply that I am losing my daughter.
I have not had enough time with her. We haven’t eaten enough ice cream or shared enough popcorn and cotton candy. I didn’t take her to the circus or the movies often enough. I know she would beg to differ, but I didn’t hug and kiss her often enough, and tell her how much I love her and how proud I am of her. I didn’t have enough time to teach her everything she is going to need to know and I’m not sure I have ever been able to convey to her how truly remarkable she is just the way she is. I don’t know if I taught her enough about God, or was low-key enough with it, or maybe too low key, wanting her to choose this for herself.
I’m surprised. I thought having gone through this once already I would know that it’s going to be okay, and it is. Most days I’m fine now with Brittany no longer here. But I’m going through it all again with Kyra. So recently Brittany was graduating and I was telling Kyra, “I’m so glad I still have two years with you.” Like time always does when we’re having fun, it’s going by too fast. And as is characteristic of time with those we love, there’s just never enough of it.
As I sit typing this, my youngest, Anna, is happily eating dinner on the couch. I know I have one more to go and, just when I don’t think I can do this again, I think again of Brittany, and how naturally that relationship has grown and changed. I know that will happen also with Kyra and Anna, but the mourning has to be done for each of them. I cannot just mourn once and have it apply to them all. Nor can I get back those days that once seemed to stretch out forever before us, but were too soon gone. God I hope I have prepared them well.
It’s hard to live in the moment, isn’t it? It’s hard to stay focused on what we have while we have it and not spend so much time being afraid of losing it that it’s already gone by the time we realize how stupid we have been. The one thing I have in my favor — when parents of older children used to tell me, “Treasure this time while you have it, it goes by fast,” I did treasure it. I always did. I always put everything I had into loving these girls and I know that none of them question that. I also know that never have three sweeter or more beautiful girls gone out into the world than the ones we’re sending from out here in Flint Township.
I love you, Kyra. Soon you will fly, my love. We are so proud of you. The world has but the smallest idea of the talent, genius, and compassion you will soon unleash upon it. What a joy you are and will always be. Just like I did with Brittany, I will struggle to breathe for a while every time I think about you being gone. And just like I did with Brittany, I will get over it. And just like I told Brittany, I would never have it any other way. Please permit me, just for a while, to mourn and feel I am losing my daughter. You know it’s not true, and I promise you that soon I will know it as well.