It’s almost midnight. I’ve been up smoking a cigar and drinking on the back deck. In the morning we’ll pack up and drive Emily to her new school and we won’t see her again for six weeks. That’s the longest we’ve ever been apart by far. But of course the larger issue is that this is the end of her childhood, or so it seems to me. She turned fourteen last week, and she’ll be in boarding school through high school and then college and then whatever’s next, so this is it. The biggest part of our parenting is behind us. I know there are huge challenges and issues to face ahead, and that she’ll always be our kid, etc, etc, but the days of having our little girl home with us are over.

I need another drink.

It is quiet here except for the sounds of the crickets and the gurgling of the fish tank. Cash is pacing around nervously, I guess because I’m still up. Ah, there he goes. Curled up at my feet with a heavy sigh.

I hope I’ve been a good dad to her. I know I’ve failed in lots of ways. I gave her attention begrudgingly too often, was gone too often, missed too much, failed to pay sufficient attention, could not pry myself away from my own life often enough. Lost my temper with her too quickly and too powerfully. The list goes on.

But I know I’ve given her a million things I’ll never even realize. Just as my recollections of my parents baffles them, I’m sure her memories of growing up with us will astound me.

We are all such individual creatures.

I love this girl with all my heart. I am proud of her beyond all measure and on the eve of this big change my heart swells with love and gratitude and pride and loss and hope and longing.

I am full to overflowing.

I’m going now to stand by her doorway one last time and listen to her breathe as she sleeps. Listen for the sounds she makes as she slips from her crysalis.

I cannot bear it.