Sometimes time drags by so slowly that one is left to wonder why that ‘stuck in a rut’ feeling won’t leave. Most often that happens — for me — in the midst of winter, when the cold and ice and snow seem unrelenting, the cloudy days piling, one on top of the next. And then there are the times when, almost by accident, one has found that years have gone by in the blink of an eye.
That’s where I am now. On Sunday, our younger daughter will graduate from high school. Tonight she’s at her Senior Prom, on Saturday night she sings in her last a capella concert. Then we’ll watch her walk across the stage as she receives her diploma — and, in the blink of an eye, it will be over. Today at graduation rehearsal, she came home with her public education system folder — every report card, every official record since she entered kindergarten, is there. We’ll file it away with the other important family documents we have kept, and some day, years from now, she’ll probably pull it out and look at it…and wonder, as I do now, where the time went.
The little girl who was so timid and afraid to try new things has found her feet and her voice. She’s made wonderful friends, performed in concerts and plays, become in engaged in changing at least a small part of the world, and acquired a lot of common sense along the way while developing a commitment to helping others as well. I can’t help but think that her grandfather – my father, the man who saw her only once and then died after a long battle with ALS – would be so incredibly proud of her. A psychiatric social worker with a commitment to helping children in disadvantaged situations, my Dad would be bursting with pride to know that Abby’s going off to Tulane University, with a probable major in sociology.
We raise children with all the love and care we can muster, hoping that, in the end, they will try their wings and fly off on their own paths. Like the pages in the Book of Life that we consider during Rosh Hashanah, there’s a new chapter about to start. In three months, this little girl we’ve loved and adored will be gone, off to new adventures, new friends, and the next part of her life. And the current chapter closes on Sunday. We’ll be there laughing at Rachel Dratch’s graduation speech, I expect, absorbing her advice for the new high school graduates. And then I, at least, will probably lose it when they call Abby’s name and she walks across the stage.
Beginnings, endings. It comes down to this: it’s time for the bird to fly away, and I, and we, must do that most difficult and wonderful of things — let her go.