Today I said goodbye to you. You are now on your way to Utah to start your new life with your husband, Ron. For some reason this goodbye hit deep inside me. You are truly moving on to your new life with a new address, new job and your own apartment. I sit back and smile proudly when I think about you. You truly have grown up to be more than any father could ever desire in a daughter. You are so beautiful. You are so kind, generous, bright, intelligent and wonderful. You have succeeded in so much and along the way you have deeply touched so many lives. All of this and you're just 22 years old. It seems like so much has happened, but it also seems like it went so fast.
I remember the daddy date nights, pulling your baby teeth, the silly and sarcastic jokes we used to laugh at, the over analyzing of movies, that wonderful trip to Houston, your high school and college graduation, and of course your wedding day. A dad holds tight to those unique and special memories. I truly savor each stage or your life. Through it you have deeply changed me. When I first became your dad I truly was clueless as to how to be a father. Yet you were so loyal to me. You in your own way were so patient and respectful even though in many ways I didn't deserve it. I can take inventory of our time together and ache over the many ways I have failed and hurt you. I wish I was a better dad for you when you were growing up, but by God's grace you turned out to be a fantastic young woman.
So today, I said goodbye - again. Why is life so full of goodbyes? I used to say goodbye when I went to work, went on a business trip or went to the hardware store. Then you became a teen and you were saying goodbye to me as you went out with your friends, took mission trips and youth retreats. Then it was college and you were out of the house. The goodbyes were you going to Columbia or after I left your dorm room. After that it was me saying goodbye to you on your wedding day. That goodbye was like giving up a piece of my heart. My little girl was grown up and no longer my little girl anymore. Today, I say goodbye and not only see you off to somewhere half way across the country, it's saying goodbye to any piece of the life at home we once had. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's what I feel.
"Tell me why, is it so? Don't want to let you go. I never can say goodbye, girl..."
I know that this is a breakup/love song, but for some reason this song rang in my head today. Yes, it's little Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 but did you know that it was written by Clifton Davis of "That's My Momma" fame? You know your dad always has some useless trivia about everything stuck in his head. I guess it's one of those things you've tolerated through the years. That's what is one of your amazing gifts is the graciousness to see and appreciate another person.Anyway, I guess deep down I'll never truly say goodbye to you. We'll still talk weekly on the phone. We can still root together for the Sharks and talk about the latest movies. But even deeper, I look forward to spending eternity with you. You can sit with me and tell me all of your experiences and all the people you have touched while I can sit joyfully enjoying the beauty of your soul.
The apostle John said it this way:
"Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea."
No longer any sea is a big deal here. John was exiled on the island of Patmos. He was separated from the ones he loved by a body of water. Heaven to him was "no sea"; no separation. I really look forward to that day. I'll be singing "Never Can Say Goodbye" to you.