I have no right to do a post like this, because I am the luckiest guy in the world, and I know it.
There are parents who have experienced unspeakable loss that would give everything they have to get back just five minutes of what I get twenty-four hours a day. I should be ashamed to write this post; to be the guy that complains about having to pay taxes after he wins the lottery.
But lately I can’t get over the feeling that I am losing my little girl.
The little girl that I never wanted. The little girl that I was afraid of having. My little girl, who gave the ambling, vapid, pointless, “too-cool-for-the-room” life I lived a purpose and a point the moment she came into this world.
I am terrified that she is dying, and not in purely figurative terms.
Last week I awoke suddenly in the dark morning hours with a terrible realization that the little six-year-old girl sleeping peacefully in the next room would someday cease to exist. She would be gone. Lost to the movement of time, with only digital remnants and memories of her left behind.
Yes, God willing she will still continue to grow and thrive, remaining as full of life as she is now. I will still have that eleven year old, or sixteen, or twenty-one, or thirty year old to hug and hold. But though I will love each one of them with every ounce of my being, I fear they will never fully soothe the loss of my little girl.
The little girl singing to her favorite song while doodling at the kitchen table. The little girl who yells “daddy’s home” as she runs towards me to deliver a hug that negates the hardest day. The little girl who still thinks I am the greatest person in the world and can protect her from anything bad.
I love that little girl so much. I don’t want her to leave. I don’t want her to go. But I know she will.
Too many things are out there conspiring to “kill” her.
First Communion. Nail polish and pierced ears. Mean girls. School dances. First loves. First broken heart. They will all take a part of my little girl away from me.
As a child I hated the first day of school more than anything else. It meant the end of carefree summer days, family vacations, and staying out til the street lights came on. But after high school it became irrelevant to me as the realities and responsibilities of adulthood took center stage. I have learned to loathe it again.
It now signifies another year lost in my daughter’s childhood. Another step closer to hearing things like “I am taking to the car out,” “he only has two piercings,” or “yea, I got accepted,” when reading a letter from that out-of-state college.
People tell me that this is part of “the cycle of life,” and that “growing up is a marvelous adventure,” and though factually right, it still does not relieve me of the urge to punch them right in the nose.
The worst thing about this all is that I haven’t been able to slow time down anymore. It’s just been moving too fast.
When she was still a babe in arms, those days seemed to go on forever. They seemed as if they would never end. I felt so present, so lucid, so “in the moment” during those times.
Today we went to the park to fly her kite and I tried to slow each moment down, in a desperate attempt to grasp on to something I have no right to posses, yet I couldn’t. All I could do was feel time slipping through my hands as I watched my little girl “die.”
Then something hit me like a ton of bricks and made me feel foolish. I realized that I have been so focused on “losing” her lately that it has prevented me from fully embracing the time I have left with her as my little girl. To lose this part of her life is sad but inevitable. But to have “missed out” on any of that precious time due to my own emotional fatality would be inexcusable.
There is a moment in life that I call the “Golden Time.” What that time “is” has varied for me over the years depending on what stage I was at in my life.
At one point it was the time between 5:00pm and 8:00pm on a Friday night when the work week was done and I could play my drums for three hours straight, while pounding a six-pack, before heading out to the bar with friends.
At another point it was before I had children of my own, when my god-daughter and her siblings were young. My wife and I would go to my in-laws, where they would already be, and I would play with them in the cul-de-sac as we waited for dinner to be ready. As the summer sun would set over the top of the neighboring houses, it would give off a light that seemed to envelop the scene with a magical warmth.
I have had so many “Golden Times” with my daughter I can’t count them all. They have all come naturally and without effort. But now I realized how important it is that I “make them” whenever I can, for as long as I can, with my less and less little girl.
So I stopped thinking. I stopped worrying. And I stopped fearing. I went back to just “being” and scooped her up onto my shoulders.
I closed my eyes and listened to her voice and to the sound of the kite flapping in the wind. I felt the sun shine down on us and the joy the moment brought me. I was once again “present.” I was able to slow time down again. I was in the “Golden Time” with my little girl once more.
Her brother is just three. He still seems like a babe, especially compared to his older sister, and it is easy now to think he will always be my little boy, though I know that is not true. I need to remember what I have learned with my daughter so I don’t waste one moment of his childhood worrying about the “death” of my little boy instead of making all the time with him as “golden” as it can be.