I’ll admit it. Leonard Pitts had the tears running down my face this morning as I read the paper and ate my breakfast. The column was about his daughter’s high school graduation. My own daughter’s high school graduation was 10 years ago, and at that time I followed precisely the emotional trajectory that Pitts describes so well. Reading the column brought it all back. The tears were about the sweetness of it all.
Nothing else in our corner of the world is like high school graduation—the only ceremony in which children march in and a short while later almost-adults march out. Parents burst with pride, even as something catches in the back of the throat. Pitts calls that something “the beginning of goodbye.”
Ten years ago, the goodbye that began on graduation day loomed larger through the following summer and struck with full force on the day Elizabeth left for college. It’s hard to explain how I felt because I never wanted to hold her back. Instead, I wanted something impossible. I wanted time to pass more slowly for me. My own childhood lasted forever, but Elizabeth’s flew by in an afternoon. I wanted it to last longer.
As an adult, Elizabeth likes to spend time with me and seems to value what I have to say. I enjoy her company, and she has become one of the best friends I have ever had. She is grateful and appreciative of the support and assistance I can offer, but, to the extent that I have done a decent job as a parent, she doesn’t need me for anything. Sometimes I miss that.