It is a cruel trick of time that has punched me in the stomach and now I cannot breathe.
I could have sworn that it was just last month that we brought Wren home from the maternity ward.
I remember, so clearly, holding her close as I tried to use scissors to remove her ankle bracelet. I must have double-, triple-, quadruple-checked to ensure that her toes were not in the way. But then, I would lose my nerve and start again.
Yet, if it was really last month, how could it be possible that I just said goodbye to her at the airport?
As exceptional as she is, how could she qualify for the University of Winnipeg’s film and theatre program when I only taught her how to walk just last week?
The cruel trick (read: cruel truth) is that 18 and a half years has flown by too quickly.
And, with that realization, I am gripped with panic as I try to think of all the things that I didn’t teach her yet.
I spent an afternoon, once, teaching her to say, “I love you, Mommy”, but I never taught her the value of a firm handshake.
I’ll have to phone her tonight and tell her. (This is a thought that just sent a pang of sadness through me as I am reminded, once again, that I cannot tell her in person.)
Alas, with the help of an outstanding mother, Wren has overcome the disadvantage of my genes and has likely already picked up the handshake thing as she toddled toward adulthood. She is bilingual, I am not; she knows how to groom a horse, I wouldn’t; and she understands movies like I never will.
All parents want is for their children to be better than they are; I just didn’t think it would happen in only one month.
As I write this, I can hear her plane lift off from the runway on the plateau just above my Riverdale home. A strange day, indeed, as I always watched her to the very last minute. When I would drop her off at her mother’s house, I would wait in the driveway until she was safely inside … even though she always had her key with her.
It was a paternal imperative to absolutely guarantee her safety for as long as I possibly could.
But, this morning at the airport, I reached a point when I could not talk anymore. I knew that I could not say goodbye, but the tragedy is that I could not even tell her I love her. That will stay with me a long time.
So, instead of waiting at the airport to watch her through the glass and then wait to ensure the plane cleared the runway and Golden Horn Mountain, I retreated to my home, which, that morning, seemed a little smaller, although it really should seem bigger as my world has shrunk.
Daisy understands what I am going through. She said her goodbyes already and, so, she will leave me alone most of the morning with my thoughts. Then she will coax me out to visit with friends and slowly I will realize it is not all about me.
Instead, it is about an amazing young woman who, with her mother by her side, will complete this trip to Winnipeg and into her dorm room to get started on her new and exciting life.
I’ll adjust to this new relationship that Wren and I will now have; it will be long distance, eight months a year, to start with, and, indeed, I will thrill to it. If I thought her finger paintings were wonderful, I will be blown away over and over as her already-ample filmmaking and theatrical skills grow by leaps and bounds.
I hope to hear all about them … via the Blackberry I gave her with unlimited long distance and e-mail! You see, just as a father always needs to feel needed (if there is a God in heaven), a daughter will still need her Dad once in a while.