I’m going to cry on August 18, 2020.
It’s an emotional response that has been building for over 17 years.
In 2002 our first child was born. She emerged screaming. My wife was on the operating table and exhausted from over 24 hours of labor and then a c-section. She kissed our daughter and the nurses took the screaming gooey cone-headed child to the warming table to clean her up. She kept on screaming.
I stood there with all this activity around me feeling like I was in the way. My wife was the experienced one. She had cared for her younger sisters and babysat countless other kids. She knew what to do. I never held a baby before.
I planned to learn from my wife but it occurred to me in that moment that she couldn’t teach me. She was lying on a table getting her insides put back inside her. I had to step up. I had to be Dad.
I went over to our screeching child and muttered a few words. From the birthing classes, I remembered that babies love to suck on something to soothe themselves so I offered her the ring finger of my right hand. She immediately calmed down. She immediately grabbed ahold of my heart.
But, in August, I will have to let her go. She will be attending college at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. I’m thrilled for her to find a college she loves that is not terribly far from home. I’m sad she will be going.
For almost 18 years, she has been with me every day. I have helped teach her to walk, talk and ride a bike. I have been there after her surgery to separate her webbed toes and at her side in the hospital after she fell off a cliff in Yellowstone National Park. I have cheered her on stage and at cross country meets. I have been with her at her best and her worst.
She has taught me so much too. She has taught me how to love unconditionally and how to laugh uncontrollably. She has been by my side when I have been depressed. She always knows how to see the good in everything and everyone.
I am so proud of the woman she is becoming. She is so confident, responsible and intelligent. I know she will love college and continue to grow. So many lives will be made brighter from meeting her.
It’s just… I’m going to miss her.
So, when we say our goodbyes at Iowa on August 18, 2020, all of the feelings I have stored inside me will overflow and the tears will slide down my cheeks.