We stood looking through the window for quite a while. Without any words between us, we watched her move through her new environment. Her steps were still and quiet. Her eyes seemed to be devouring all that was around her. I shifted my weight, very aware of the burden my equilibrium felt from holding only one child. With both of my daughters in my arms I was balanced. Now one was with me and one was on the other side of that window and my spine and my heart knew it. My feet felt rooted, unwilling to move from that spot, though I knew that I should. It was time to go, to move on, but I just wanted to stay. I wanted to see that she was going to be okay. I wanted to see if I was, too.
Then Lemon said “Daddy, she’s talking to that little girl” and I saw my smile in the reflection of the glass. I took one last look and then carried one daughter out the front door, leaving the other behind. Bug had started school.
It wasn’t that long ago that all of this started. We had a baby and promises and sacrifices were made and I stayed home to care for our new child. We blinked and we had another child. The painting of my life has since had infinite contrasts of light and dark, been colored with love and applesauce and had two constants at my side. They are my shadows. Not many memories of the last few years don’t include those two brilliant faces. They are my life these days. They are my buddies.
Their lives have been painted with my image, too. Always in the background, but always there. The walk through their short lives had to now come complete with a dad-shaped safety net. They could only fall as far as me. But now Bug has begun to walk alone, at least for a few hours a day. Experience will be only hers, now. The beginning of so much that is to come.
The wheels on the car with a less populated back seat rolled out of the parking lot and my thoughts were of all that lies ahead. Laughter and heartache and late nights and quiet moments and books and kisses and tears and sunsets and weekends and friends and epiphany and stresses and joy. Bug is still a baby, still our baby, but I think of all that life holds for all of us as her journey begins and I see the woman in her. Sometimes there are no words that can adequately describe this parenthood thing.
Beginnings follow endings follow beginnings. The cycle flows on and blurs the lines of distinction until all you are left with is life. Bug started school when just yesterday she was sleeping on my chest. Tomorrow she will be grown, maybe watching her own child in a red dress, new backpack and ladybug lunch bag walk into her first classroom. I can only hope she will be as proud of hers as I am of mine.