See once in a while when it’s good
It’ll feel like it should
And they’re all still around
And you’re still safe and sound
And you don’t miss a thing
’til you cry when you’re driving away in the dark…
John Mayer, “Stop This Train”
Sometimes I wish I had the power to still time. Or, at the very least, to slow it down.
Because sometimes I think that life is happening much too fast, and I don’t know if I’m entirely ready for it, ready for what I can feel is happening all around me:
Under the surface of a smile lies a hesitation — a bit of lingering fear — of what it means to let go of one part of life in order to start another.
It’s not always like this…
There are moments on rare early Sunday mornings when I get up early, while the rest of the neighborhood is still tucked in bed and fast asleep. I let Riley out, make a cup of hot tea, and then head out to the porch if it’s warm or snuggle on the couch when it’s not and watch the sky change color and the world wake up outside my front window. I think, how lucky I am to have this place, this space, that I can call entirely my own, my home. And I spend the morning in quiet reflection, thinking I’m right where I’m supposed to be, knowing everything will turn out alright.
There are moments late at night, after the pots are cleaned and the dishes are put away, after the laundry is folded and there are no more chores to complete, that I lie in bed, unable to fall asleep just yet, the darkness enveloping me like a hug that I don’t want. Suddenly, my heart is gripped with longing, and I miss that active house, full of chatter and laughter and building little moments, shared memories that seem so inconsequential but in the end matter so much — jokes with my brothers as dinner is prepared — usually at my parents’ or my expense — people coming and going, saying hellos and how was your days and I love yous. I lie awake, missing the liveliness of family that fills the space between four walls.
Then there are moments, like today, when my dad comes over to help me with some minor repairs that I have no idea whatsoever how to fix. And I realize I have so much learning to do, not just with fixing a door or taking down a laundry line that I had no hope of ever reaching…No, not just those minor repairs that can be taken care of so easily with the right tools and years of know-how. Rather, I have so much to learn about this new phase of my life I’ve embarked on, perhaps unaware; it’s one that I’ve always longed for, waiting for the time when I could have my own home and start my own life, my own family. Never fully realizing all of these changes that would come with it…
Everything that I would have to let go of if I wanted to hold onto something new.
A little bit of — what? What is this feeling? A touch of sadness, a small dose of remorse?
A pang of nostalgia that leaves an ache in the heart?
As my dad was leaving today, petting Riley who was only too thrilled to see him, I asked him what he thought, if I was doing ok.
“Are you paying your mortgage on time?” he asked with a tease.
“Of course,” I replied.
“Then you’re fine.”
It’s harder than I realized, I admitted, doing it all on your own. But I’m not alone. And I told him how grateful I was that my very own handyman could come help me when I needed it…that my dad was there when I needed him. I hugged him and promised I would come over for dinner soon. And as I watched from the steps of my front porch, as I called out again that I loved him and he waved, putting his tools in his trunk and getting into his car, I saw something there that I hadn’t noticed before…Or maybe I hadn’t taken the time to notice. Maybe I hadn’t wanted to.
A change that both of us realize and that maybe neither of us are ready for.
And that’s it. That’s the emotion I’ve been trying to keep buried. There are moments when I feel peace. There are nights when I feel lonely.
And then there are times when I regret everything that I have to leave behind.
I’m growing up. I’m growing up and as much as I want this, as happy as I’ve been these past two months, I’m beginning to realize that there’s no going back. Time is still moving forward for both of us, and though he is my hero, he is still human and life still happens.
I wish I had the power to freeze time. I wish I could push that pause button so I can still be his little girl who watches as he happily puts together her toys at Christmastime, the teenager who spends Saturday mornings with him laughing at cheesy horror movies on the couch before everyone else is awake.
Dancing at a cousin’s wedding, working on science projects, learning all about baseball.
Crying over a broken heart, talking when I’m homesick and far away, a hug when I’m close by.
Suddenly, I wish that I could repay him for everything he’s ever done for me — and not just helping with home repairs — but for those thousands of little things that seem so insignificant, so second-nature, so just a part of being a parent, but is yet so much more. Because they matter so much more.
As he drove away today, I realized how much I need my dad. How much I’ll always need him.
How much I don’t ever want that to change.
And how it never will.
* * * * * * * * * *
I stopped by their house for dinner tonight. As we were getting drinks in the kitchen, I threw my arms around him.
“You know I’ll always be your little girl, right Dad?”
His voice held a light laugh, as it usually does, but he hugged me tightly.
“Yes you will.”