There is no word in the English language that describes that moment when we know something we will not like is about to happen but we also have to make a brave face and happily march into the hail of emotional bullets on the other side of the trench we’ve dug ourselves into. It’s the perfect mix of dread and consignment and acting. No matter how much I might hate for her to leave, no daughter deserves a distressful send off as she prepares to make the five-hour trip across the country by herself.
So I do what a good father does, I take pictures, hug her close, tell her again how much I love her and how proud I am of who she is RIGHT NOW because I never want her to worry about who she thinks I want her to be. A few more minutes for me to make sure she knows that I love her right now, just as she is, unconditionally. It’s what a father should do, for a nine-year-old or a nineteen-year-old or a forty-nine-year old…no matter what age, it’s what a father should do.
So we sit for a while, and I capture the moment.
Then they put a green band on her wrist,
And a matching one on her bag.
One final look back after one final hug,
Then down the jetway and safe in her seat.
Once everyone boards they push back the plane,
And I stand and I wait as it taxis away.
Someday, when she is an adult, perhaps a mother to children of her own, I wonder if she will understand how difficult it was to smile when she walked to the waiting attendant, to blow kisses as she waved goodbye, and not to cry when she told me she loved me and that she’d see me next time. Because in the English language, there just isn’t a word.