It’s coming. I can feel it. That…emptiness.
While sitting in church this morning, Rachael snuggled up to me and said that she was cold. I put my arm around her and tried to warm her up. It was comfortable and comforting. After a few minutes, she leaned forward to pick something up and my arm stayed in place on the pew, leaving a cold, hole there. I could feel what was the warmth of my second oldest fading away. It’s coming. That day when she goes off to college. That day when she and my other kids don’t need me in the same way that they do now. This one, who last year gave me the framed picture of me reading a book to her as a toddler that says “Daddy’s Girl”, is going to be a Junior in high school in the coming year.
I’ve lost one daughter to college and life already and I can see the time when the other 3 happily move on with their lives, creating their own future. I’m happy for them but it’s sad for me. At least foreseeing this helps me to have some perspective and great appreciation for the time that I have left with them while they are still living at home. Weekends spent at dance competitions, campouts with Boy Scouts, spending hours helping to prepare for birthday parties, worrying about their grades, trying to balance trying to keep them safe while still allowing them have some freedom and time to enjoy finding their way.
Children have a way of bringing out both the best and the worst in us at different times I think. They help to show us who we are, our strengths and our weaknesses. They make us want to be better and they fulfill, at least for a time, that need that I think that everyone has to feel truly needed in a way that only children can convey.
As the emptiness of children heading off into life looms in the all to near future, I’m so thankful for my awesome wife and the way that we’ve balanced each other’s weaknesses to try to be good parents. You start life together in marriage, bring children into the world which changes your world more dramatically than you could imagine and in the end, if you are lucky and blessed as I have been, you look forward to at least heading to the finish line of life with that wonderful spouse that you began the journey with.
Yet there’s always that space. That cold empty feeling in the spot where your children used to sit close to you, needing that comfort that only Daddy or Mommy can provide. And it’s coming. All too soon.