A Dad Says Good-Bye

A Dad Says Good-Bye

From Chicken Soup for the College Soul

A Dad Says Good-Bye

I watched her and her mother decorate her college dormitory room. Everything in place, organized and arranged, just so. Attractively designed bulletin board with carefully selected, and precisely cut, colored paper. Pictures and remembrances throughout of her dearest friends. Drawers and boxes under the bed. Her room nicely accommodates not only her clothes, accessories and bric-a-brac, but her roommate’s as well. I closely monitor that which I would have, in the past, ignored, knowing that this time is different. As her half of the room takes on her essence, I begin to accept that her room at home is no longer hers. It is now ours. Our room for her when she visits.

I find myself thinking of when I held her in the cradle of my arm, in the chair alongside my wife’s hospital bed. One day old. So small, so beautiful, so perfect, so totally reliant on her new, untested parents. All manner of thoughts went through my mind as I examined her every feature for what seemed to be an eternity. Time marches relentlessly.

She looks up now, catching me staring at her, causing her to say to her mother, “Mom, Dad’s looking at me funny.”

The last few days, I touch her arm, her face—any thing—knowing that when my wife and I return home, she will not be with us and there will be nothing to touch. I have so much to say, but no words with which to say it.

My life changed from the day I drove this child home from the hospital. I saw myself differently that day, and it has led to a lot of places that I would never have found on my own.

She says, “It’ll be all right, Dad. I’ll be home from school soon.” I tell her she will have a great year, but I say little else. I am afraid somehow to speak, afraid I’ll say something too small for what I’m feeling, and so I only hold on to our good-bye hug a little longer, a little tighter.

I gaze into her eyes and turn to go. My wife’s eyes follow her as she leaves us. Mine do not. Maybe if I don’t look, I can imagine that she really hasn’t gone. I know that what she is embarking upon is exciting and wonderful. I remember what the world looked like to me when everything was new.

As I walk to the car with my wife at my side, my eyes are wet, my heart is sore, and I realize that my life is changing forever.

Joseph Danziger

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