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Remembering that time you had to say goodbye

Facebook won't let me forget anything.

It keeps reminding me of what I said on the site, thanks to its “On This Day” feature, which tells you what you posted on that date every year since you joined.

Lately, it’s been reminding me of what I was posting two years ago, when we moved my oldest daughter from Buffalo to Mesa, Ariz.

I didn't need to be reminded that it was an exhausting and emotional time, culminating with the moment we all said goodbye.

When we got back home, I wrote this:

You hold on so tightly when she is handed to you for the first time.

And then you spend years slowly loosening your grip.

That’s what it means to be a parent. Everyone who signs up for the job gets that.

That’s why you buy her a bicycle and teach her to ride it, even though she doesn’t really want to, is not very good at it and spends more time damaging the neighbor’s car than she does staying upright, because you want her to know how to get herself somewhere.

That’s why you let her walk to school with her friend from around the corner, even though you could just as easily drive her, because you want her to experience a little independence.

That’s why you let her sleep over at the home of the girl you don’t really know that well because you trust that your daughter will do the right thing, and then you have your faith validated when she tells you through tears the next day that she spent part of the night off by herself because all the other kids were watching an R-rated movie and she knew she wasn’t supposed to.

That’s why you encourage her to sign up for advanced classes in school because even though she might get a lower grade in the course and that could affect her overall average, you love that she is willing to challenge herself.

That’s why you are so happy when she goes out and gets a job before her 16th birthday that you volunteer to always be the person who comes and picks her up no matter how late it is and even though she seems to always walk out of the place 45 minutes later than she said she would.

That’s why you force her to learn to drive, even though she doesn’t really want to, is not very good at it and spends more time damaging the garage than she does going the speed limit, because you want her to feel empowered enough to get herself somewhere a little farther away.

That’s why you side with her when she says she wants to go away to college, even though you know it will cause her to go into debt and she could get the same education down the street, because you want her to make her own decisions and her own mistakes.

That’s why you congratulate her when she gets a full-time job that pays well and has a future and tell her that all of her hard work paid off.

That’s why you love that she moves out and gets her own place, even though she inexplicably keeps calling to say, “What’s for dinner?”

That’s why you tell her she is making a wise decision when she accepts a promotion, even though it means she will have to move 2,000 miles from you.

That’s why you drive a truck packed with her meager possessions across the country and spend five days with her helping her set up her new apartment.

That’s why you tell her honestly that you are happy for her and proud of her willingness to put herself out there in a way that you know you never could have.

And yet even after all of that, you still may not be prepared for the moment you find yourself in an airport parking ramp with your arms around her and tears rolling down your cheeks, asking her if she knows how much you love her, how much you are going to miss her and saying goodbye in a way you’ve never said goodbye to her before.

But that is when you will finally understand that if you truly love someone, you have to let go.

Facebook is going to remind me soon that I posted this on the site a week after I wrote it. It's going to let me see again all the nice comments from friends who knew what I was going through or dreaded the day they were going to experience it themselves.

It's funny how much has changed since that day.

The girl we left behind in the desert two years ago got a new job recently. We helped her move again and when she was settled, we had to say goodbye again.

There were no tears this time. The trip home from her new place took about 15 minutes by car, instead of four hours by plane.

Someday, Facebook will remind me of the day my oldest daughter came home.

And it will remind me that you never know what can happen after you let go.




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